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Makes it Big: Netball Star Reflects on Going Pro

Author: Myolisi Gophe

UWC netball sensation Courtleigh Behr talks us through what it’s like to play at a professional level and juggle a busy academic schedule simultaneously. 

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Image: ASEM Engage on behalf of Varsity Sports

(Published - 13 August 2019)

It is every athlete’s dream to play sport at a professional level, and UWC netball sensation Courtleigh Behr realised hers in style this year. After she made the cut into the Southern Stings team, the Western Cape franchise in the Telkom Netball League, she became a travelling reserve until the final of the tournament when she landed her chance to play.

Although the Stings team eventually lost to the Gauteng Jaguars, Behr believes she has made her mark. “To earn my cap and taste my first professional game in the final stage was really unexpected,” the BA in Sports Science student recalls. “I had to stay calm and make my mark to show that I can play with the big girls.”

Playing comfortably as both an attacker and a defender, the Elsies River-born Behr says she found the Telkom Netball League a bit more challenging than the other competitions she has participated in. “It is very tough in the league, not just physically but mentally — you have to be strong and believe in yourself,” she comments. “Everyone in the team is always competing and everyone wants to start, and you want to perform at your best as the coaches want to play their best players.”

Behr says the experience she gained in the professional league will certainly come in handy as she looks to play a key role in the UWC netball team’s ever-improving performances in local and national netball competitions such as USSA, Varsity Netball and the national championships.

She comes from a sport-loving family. Her sister also played netball and her mother and father were hockey and football players. Her netball skills were noticed as early as primary school and she was offered sport bursaries to high school. In 2012, she was also part of a Western Cape team that went on to participate in an action netball tournament in Australia.

She says sport has made her a better and nicer person as she has made many friends and travelled extensively. “I have gone overseas and have visited almost every corner of South Africa because of netball.”

However, like many of the student athletes across these pages, she has found pursuing studies and sport challenging. “Sometimes, you have to train for five days and still attend a full day of classes each day. It takes discipline to balance the two and you can easily make an excuse not to do well in one area. You just have to be committed because you chose this and it’s something you love.”

This article was first published in the Women's Month special edition of the Blue and Gold - UWC Sports' official magazine. Read the full magazine here.​​​​​​​​​

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