Namibia
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Ex-netball star now builds business school brand

Wency Katjatako-Ndjitaviua oozes confidence when she speaks, the same confidence she has displayed as a player during her successful netball career.

Although she was born in Windhoek, the towering goalshooter grew up at Outjo after her parents bought a farm in the Outjo district and she had to start school at Outjo Primary School as a result.

Katjatako-Ndjitaviua started playing netball at a very young age because of her height, and she was hardly seven years old when she was drafted into the school’s under-9 team in 1992.

“Some kids used to poke fun at my length and it was really embarrassing at times. Outjo Primary was predominantly a white school, and they took their netball very seriously.

“My inclusion in the netball team changed my mentality about my height.

“Even my Grade 1 classmates and the other children at the school started to respect me. I became the toast of the team, because I also started to play for the Otjozondjupa regional team.

“Goal attack was my favourite position during my beginning stages,” she says.

Wendy Katjatako-Ndjitaviua heads the marketing and corporate communications division of the Harold Pupkewitz Graduate School of Business.

Katjatako-Ndjitaviua says she was also deployed as a goalshooter and wing-attack during her time at Otjiwarongo High School, where she played for the under-15 and under-19 teams.

She joined Orlando Pirates, who were playing in the Khomas First Division at the time.

“I used to travel from Otjiwarongo to play for Pirates over the weekends during my Grade 11 and Grade 12 years at Otjiwarongo High in 2002 and 2003. I was named captain of the under-19 national team during that time as well,” she says.

It was during a tour with the under-19 team to Rustenburg in South Africa that she was scouted by Sandra du Plessis to go and do a sport management course at Stellenbosch Netball Institute.

After completing her matric in 2003, she went to Stellenbosch, where she was required to play netball for the institute as part of her scholarship.

“The scholarship is sponsored by the New Zealand government, and the Stellenbosch Netball Institute is tasked to identify young talent from previously disadvantaged communities, mostly from South Africa and Namibia.

“I felt very privileged and honoured, because out of thousands of talented players, especially from South Africa, I was chosen as a foreigner and a black girl, for that matter, for the coveted programme,” she says.

Katjatako-Ndjitaviua says it was during her time at Stellenbosch that she was converted to play in the goal defence position for the Boland under-19 and under-20 provincial teams, while she was also called up to the South African under-20 team in 2004.

After winning the Spar National Championships with Boland in 2008, the Namibian star left Stellenbosch to persue her first master’s degree in marketing at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), and started representing the Western Cape.

She starred for the Western Cape Tornado netball team as well, a combined team made up of the best players from Boland and the Western Cape, which competes in the semi-professional Netball League of South Africa (Telkom Netball League).

Katjatako-Ndjitaviua, who describes herself as an avid reader, which set her apart from her peers, was the player of the tournament winner in both 2011 and 2012 during the national championships with Tornado.

She would alternate by also playing for Civics between 2009 and 2011 while in South Africa.

She played for the senior Western Province team and made it onto the South African A team.

Katjatako-Ndjitaviua had to obtain South African citizenship to play for the SA A team, and played alongside current Springbok players like Karla Pretorius and captain Bongiwe Msomi.

She says the most difficult match of her career was when the SA A team played the Namibian team, the Desert Jewels, adding it was akward playing against the country of her birth.

WORK, FAMILY

Katjatako-Ndjitaviua got married to George Ndjitaviua in 2014, and the couple had three sons of which one died in 2021.

Wendy and George Ndjitaviua got hitched in 2014. Photos: contributed

Katjatako-Ndjitaviua is currently employed by the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust), where she is heading the marketing and corporate communications division of the Harold Pupkewitz Graduate School of Business.

“I am basically responsible for building the brand of the school, to manage the corporate side of the school,” she says.

Although she is no longer actively involved, the former star was appointed technical director by Netball Namibia (NN) after her retirement in 2014, a position which she held until last year.

“I had to resign because I was not in a positive frame of mind since the passing of my baby in 2021, and I was afraid I would not serve the association to the best of my ability. But I am proud of the tremendous impact I made during my tenure,” she says.

The retired star says netball opened a lot of doors for her.

It was also through netball that she got a scholarship to go study, and it has enabled her to finish another master’s degree through the University of Pretoria.

Katjatako-Ndjitaviua is currently pursuing a doctorate.

Her advice to young netball players is to “just give it your all”.

“If this is your calling, invest in it, because so much can come from the time you invest in your netball while growing up.”