South Africa is building a formidable netball squad and an exciting new talent in Lefebre Rademan has broken through.
Rademan was in the middle of conducting a netball coaching session at Hoër Meisieskool Oranje in Bloemfontein when the call came. It was a call many would have anticipated, but it elicited great excitement nevertheless. It was newly appointed Proteas netball coach Dorette Badenhorst: Rademan had cracked the nod for the national squad.
‘When I got the call from the head coach it felt unreal. I was very excited,’ says the 23-year-old, who went on to make her debut for the senior national side against Lesotho at the Africa Netball Cup in Cape Town last October. It wasn’t the toughest of introductions to the team, considering the Proteas pummelled Lesotho 106-10 in that match, but it marked a step up for the rising star, who had been gunning for a spot in the team for some time.
Rademan has been playing netball since Grade 1 and admits with a laugh: ‘I was actually good from the start and was very competitive … and am still competitive. I think it was already from then that I was hooked and love the sport.’
Originally a defender, she now plies her trade as goal attack, wing attack and centre.
She was selected for the SA U18 side in her matric year, but it was when she headed to the University of the Free State that she really started making her mark. Playing in the Kovsies team alongside some of the country’s greats made her realise she perhaps had what it took to play at top level. It was there she came under the watchful eye of one of the best coaches in the country.
‘Coach Burta de Kock has had the biggest impact; she gave me the opportunity to live my dream. And also Maryka Holtzhausen,’ says the youngster.
Former Proteas captain Holtzhausen was Rademan’s predecessor as goal attack for the national side, notching an impressive 116 caps in her illustrious career. She also got her start at Kovsies and also went on to captain the side, just like Rademan.
Having grown up on a farm in Riversdale in the Western Cape, Rademan headed to Bloemfontein to study education, another of her passions.
‘I have my education degree and an honours degree in management and leadership. So, I would love to be a teacher. I believe I am a born teacher and will make an impact on learners’ lives.’
For now the focus is very much on netball. Rademan had a great year in Varsity Netball, where she was named the season’s best player and players’ player of the tournament. In 2019’s Telkom Netball League, where she represented the Free State Crinums, she also claimed (joint most) four player-of-the-match accolades during the five-week tournament. Her 86% goal average (201 goals from 235 attempts) was the second highest by a shooter with more than 100 attempts.
So, it came as no surprise that she received the national call-up. Speaking about why she selected Rademan, coach Badenhorst said: ‘She is creative and has a lot if speed and brings something different to the team. She’s also disciplined, accurate and coachable, and she is a perfectionist, combined with having BMT.’
Creativity is something Rademan relishes about playing at goal attack.
‘I really enjoy GA, because you are the playmaker and you need to be creative in that position,’ she says.
After debuting for the side at the Africa Cup – which the South Africans won comfortably with further victories over Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Zambia – Rademan was also included in the squad to take on the visiting English side in a three-match series held in November and December.
Taking on the Commonwealth Games champions, she proved she is more than capable of facing up to world-class competition. The Proteas and the English finished the first Test level on 51-all but the visitors edged ahead when the game went to extra time. They won the second as well, 59-53, to clinch the series, before the South Africans turned things around to dominate the third, coming back with a 54-48 victory.
‘Lefebre did well, even though there is still lots of work to do,’ said Badenhorst. ‘She showed guts and her confidence became better and better as the series went.’
As for the experience, Rademan says: ‘The England Test series was amazing. I’ve learned so much and have grown as a player. I’ve learned that it’s hard work and I need to put in extra to be the best. I also learned that I have to know that I am good enough and that I have to believe in myself. Confidence is everything.’
Building on her first taste of top international competition, Rademan is determined to make it to the next Netball World Cup, which will be played on home soil in Cape Town in 2023. With a successful start to her international career already under her belt and with an attitude of always looking to improve, that certainly seems achievable. She’ll be looking to her new teammates to help her along the way.
‘My Protea teammates inspire me to train and improve myself,’ says the young star. ‘I want to be better and I know that it will take hard work to stay at the top.’
This article first appeared in the February 2020 issue of TFG SportsClub magazine