Hard work, endurance - and the support of a good team. That is what third year University of the Western Cape (UWC) law student (Class of 2019, specialising in family law) and volleyball captain - and recently-selected vice-captain of the South African Indoor Volleyball team - Bejancke Della lives by.
The volleyball player may be shy at times, but she has confidence in her strengths - and the strengths of her players. One of Bejancke’s major duties as UWC’s captain is to help decide which player should play in which jersey - weighing up the strengths and weaknesses of each player, and determining the best option for the team to provide the best chance of a win.
“I think I’m good at defending and I’m able to motivate other players quite well. When a team starts losing more than five points consecutively, you can see how their faces drop, because the odds start to look impossible.”
That’s when Bejancke really shines.
“I become frustrated when I make mistakes myself,” she says, “but not so when it happens to my teammates. I would tell them, it’s not only you playing the game, and that they should do what they do while training - it’s the easiest way to get your head in the game again.”
And a good team isn’t just limited to the volleyball court - Bejancke’s achievements have come with the help of several friends, coaches and family members over the years.
“My successes came with a lot of sacrifice and support from my family and coaches, and I really appreciate it,” she says.
“My mom, Nellie, always asks why it’s necessary to go so far away from home just to play a game,” says the Eerste River resident, who is originally from Riviersonderend. “As an only child, I have to give regular updates about the games I play away.”
Bejancke Della: A Long Sporting Journey
Bejancke’s sporting interests began early, at Melton Rose Primary in Eerste River, Cape Town. Starting off as a netballer, by age 12 she made the Western Province volleyball team, and decided to be the best volleyballer she could be.
“I started doing sport in grade three and Mr Ben Wanza pushed me to improve my skills in netball, and then in volleyball,” Bejancke recalls. “I literally just went to play and the next thing I knew I was enrolled for the Western Province netball team.”
The next step was high school - and again Mr Wanza had a hand in it, applying on her behalf to the Western Cape Sport School (WCSS), where she completed her high school career.
““I had to leave home and live at res,” she says. “It was tough for me to be away from home, and in the first few weeks training was exceptionally difficult. You’re up at six in the morning to do fitness exercises, and there isn’t much of a break before school starts at 08:30. But in the end it pays off, as you see your endurance and fitness improving.”
The WCSS was the top school in South Africa in volleyball during that time, and Bejancke qualified to compete internationally in China 2010, playing for the South African u18 team in 2010, and then going to Egypt.
“The experience was amazing,” she says, “and I also learned a lot. Not just from the game but also the different cultures and traditions of countries, and meeting new people, making friends.”
At WCSS, Bejancke also came into contact with another mentor, Elmien Cloete - her current coach at UWC - who spotted her potential straight away.
“She encouraged me to study further after school and to make sport a part of my career plan going forward,” Bejancke notes. “She even helped me complete my application online.”
Elmien has nothing but praise for the young athlete: she describes Bejancke as someone who’s shy but loves the sport.
“I felt she played in the wrong position and I started training her as a setter - the position I thought she was best suited for,” Elmien says. “She excelled and was selected to represent the SA Junior Team in the very same position.”
When the SA team was announced in Durban, Elmien was there to support them. Prior to the gala event where her vice-captainship was announced, Bejancke was part of a training camp at the Tempe Military Base in Bloemfontein, where they played against Gauteng, Limpopo, KZN, Mpumalanga and North West Province.
“Her obvious leadership skills were evident during this time,” Elmien says, “and this helped secure her the spot of vice-captain on the national team. Bejancke has phenomenal skills as a volleyball player, and her consistency is her key personal strength that led to her breakthrough. She is one of the most dedicated people I know, and successful in the sport because she ticks all the boxes: she’s hard-working, disciplined, dedicated, loyal, coachable and humble.”
In her first year at UWC, Bejancke started taking beach volleyball very seriously, and competed in the beach volleyball portion of the Varsity Sports competition.
There was a lot of preparation, training and playing in the lead-up tournaments to the event, Bejancke notes - and again, it paid off. “I wanted the team to win at this huge competition - and I was very proud when they did.”
Since then, UWC have been defending champions in the Varsity Sports beach volleyball competition for four years in a row, and Bejancke has received numerous individual awards both in indoor and beach volleyball, and competed in several international tournaments. Another highlight: her recent selection to play in the World Student Games in 2018.
Bejancke has big plans for the future.
“I’m hoping to work as a family lawyer someday,” she explains. “Helping people fight for their rights, and supporting families - that’s something that really matters to me.”
If that doesn’t happen, she’d be keen to continue her sporting career, naturally.
“I would like to see myself representing SA Beach Volleyball overseas, competing internationally. That would make me very proud; representing my country in this way.”