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Personality of the week - Tjivera’s wanting to win attitude is taking him far

2021-10-07  Maihapa Ndjavera

Personality of the week - Tjivera’s wanting to win attitude is taking him far
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Place of Birth: Windhoek

Nickname: Manzi

Marital status: Single

Car/s: Alfa Romeo Sports

Previous Clubs: Unam Jaguars


Biggest career achievement?  

Winning the Debmarine Pent Series 2018 as coach of the Namibian national netball team.


Biggest career disappointment? 

No disappointment; just growing through learning. I put a lot of value in making meaning of the hardships and the struggles that we face. I think from a coaching perspective, it’s important that you have those tough seasons, those tough years and those tough environments. And, you know, struggle is the catalyst for growth, and growth is the reflection of how well you can navigate your way through obstacles. 


Talk to us about how your journey as coach started?

I was never limited to play netball. The secondary school I attended allowed me to play netball with girls. The community I hail from – Gemengde, which is a mixed-race location and highly dominated by Black Africa (BA) Sports Club – was accepting and supported me as a netball referee with no experience and no knowledge, and that’s where it all started. BA Netball Club was then under the leadership of Aunt Rickey Fredericks, the late Dan Tjongarero and the current sports minister, honourable Agnes Tjongarero. I was just a young boy who loved playing netball, and I just happen to be playing with girls. I first played for BA’s men’s team as a goal attack (GA) and wing attack (WA). There were only four male teams in Windhoek that would play on a weekend basis just for bragging rights on a social structure. BA, Orlando Pirates, Tigers and Civics were competing only in curtain raisers before the main women’s league matches over weekends. I really enjoyed it, particularly the last five to 10 years of my career – playing the real playmaking role of a GA, and just refining the court craft, playing the team game, setting things up, and really crafting goals. I think it was what I loved most about it. There’s no better feeling than setting up a player who is shooting for goal. So, I love those elements of the game and certainly bring that into my coaching as well. While assisting as coach and umpiring many games, I had the opportunity to learn.


What were some of the challenges your faced as a male coach in the female space?

I think gender does not make a good coach; rather, an individual’s skills set do. Coaching has attributes; coaching has a level of competencies, and that’s how we should all be assessed, evaluated and employed. If you make the role about gender, it could make your coaching journey harder. I’m a coach and I happen to be a man, but I’ve been involved in the game since I was an eight-year-old child. Therefore, anyone can go on their own journeys.

If you’re good enough, you’ll get the rewards, and if you’re the right fit, you will get the jobs that you’re striving for. So, you know, I always take great pride in the fact that I’ve been, I guess, in the minority in my sport being a male where there aren’t many of us. I hope I can be a role model to aspiring coaches, no matter their gender. I think our biggest source of inspiration can be someone’s journey. I’m no different to anybody else.


What do you think of the status of netball in Namibia?

The Netball Namibia (NN) leadership has done as much as possible to uplift the sport with little resources available. Looking at where netball was – not ranked on the world rankings – they have done a lot throughout the years to bring it where it is currently. It is a job well done.  


You recently won the inaugural MTC Netball Namibia Premier League with Namibia Correctional Services (NCS), talk to us about the season?

It was not easy. Because of the pandemic, we had to break away from an active training programme to tailor-made training programmes and WhatsApp training sessions; individual training for players, which included fitness, skills, and most times you had to keep the players in the loop, because we were not sure whether we would continue or not. I work with a group of well-disciplined players who know what they want and understood the expectation from the coach. I am privileged working with the NCS sports office and the leadership within. When I was appointed head coach, there was a plan of action from the sports office, and I immediately knew I was at the right place. The players, team manager, myself as coach and the continuous involvement of the sports office made this work. I set targets for all players in the team positionally as individuals, and then we had a team target. This target had to be obtained throughout each match we played. Our approach was different for each game we played. The game plan involved all the components of our opponents and what we should do to shut them down. A positive mindset was kept on and off the court. Respect goes out to all officials and opponents. 

How challenging was it to win the league?

The only challenging part was the stop and restart aspects due to the pandemic.


Upon commencing the inaugural league, did you know you were going to win the title?

The sports office was very lenient, seeing it was my first time with the team, and their main aim was to end second or third. I made a personal objection and promise that I aim for first prize, which I did not have pressure achieving.


What’s the way forward for the team?

We have six players invited to train with the national team coaches, and this gives me a clear indication that there is progress in the making. The NN Fast 5 Tournament is still on the cards. Then I must start working on pre-season training programmes. I will also have to do a self-assessment for my personal development. We also have the NCS Development Tier that currently tops Division 2 in the Khomas League. Once that league concludes, they will move on to Division 1. 


Are you guys looking to strengthen the team next season by bringing in new players or are you content with the squad you currently have?

Yes, I have done some positional assessment on my players and skills ability throughout the league, and I am looking at adding more versatility to the team.

Would you say the inaugural league is as competitive as it is dubbed?

Yes, it is competitive; the best in the country is given the opportunity to showcase their talents.


What should be done to improve the quality of netball in the country?

Our facilities need upgrading. Netball in general need support from the corporate world. NN cannot manage by itself. Thanks to MTC for making it possible for the girl-child to be able to be empowered through their favourite sports - netball. I congratulate NN for doing its best for netball.


What can you say about male netball in the country now that there are plans to start a male league?

It is significant, because international netball is strictly sanctioned for women only by the game’s world body. The league will be the first real exposure of the men’s game, which has been fighting for official recognition for years.


What advice do you have for those in remote areas trying to make it to the premier league?

The lack of adequate sporting facilities and financial support to participate in tournaments does not only limit children’s athletic potential, it also affects their relationship with sport.


What is your personal favourite motivational quote?

Winning is not everything but wanting to win is.


Do you think attitude is a factor in winning?

It is all about the body, mind and soul; physical ability is as important as a strong mindset and attitude.


Do you have any hobbies or interests outside netball?

Watching sports in general, and analysing coaches’ behaviour throughout a match. I’m a very good cook and love facilitating coaching workshops, mentoring younger up-and-coming coaches.


Describe the qualities you believe an effective coach must have?

To be able handle stress and pressure. I can adjust myself very well to pressure; I deal very well with stressful situations.


Your ambitions for 2021 and beyond?

Pre-season preparation meetings still to be concluded with NCS sports office and planning workshops with the players.

2021-10-07  Maihapa Ndjavera

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