Wanderers and national netball team player Salome Davin was one of Namibia’s best goal defenders of her generation but the Windhoek-born star refuses to bask in any praise of her achievements.
Although she captained both her secondary school team and the pre-independence national schools team, the Jan Mohr Secondary School matriculant remains as humble as she was when thwarting the opposition from attacking her goal.
“It was always my belief that netball is a team sport and as such, you win as a team and you lose as a team. Hence, no one is bigger than the game and no single player should feel superior than their teammates, no matter how talented they are,” Davin says.
“I was someone who was very passionate about the game. In fact, any player I played against will tell me that I was very aggressive on the court. I loved my game and I didn’t take any prisoners when it came to playing netball. I played for the team with great passion.”
Davin, who started playing netball while attending Orban Primary School, has always been a defender throughout her career and never played any other position.
She played briefly for United upon her return from Cape Town in South Africa, where she went to study, eventually completing her studies at the University of Namibia – majoring in mathematics and statistics.
“I must admit that joining Wanderers was one of the best decisions I ever made. It was an absolutely wonderful choice because I flourished under coach Malie Snyman. Besides, the club is from my neighbourhood because I am from Pioneerspark,” Davin says.
“Despite winning several league titles with Wanderers I was also named sportswoman of the year by my team. Now that’s when I realised that I was receiving good coaching and my netball career was on the right track. It was just a pleasure for me to play for Wanderers.”
She captained the Southwest schools team under coach Marietjie Brand from who she also claims to have learnt a great deal about the game of netball.
Davin, who reckons that she played her best netball between the late 80s and the early 90s, says although she received a bursary to go study and play for the Maties (University of Stellenbosch netball team), she was never considered for selection.
“My game was built around my fitness. I had a natural fitness in me. My other strong point was that I had a great sense of anticipation and I was a great reader of the game. I could sense what the opponents were plotting and I cut them off very well,” Davin says.
The retired Wanderers star mentioned Namibia’s first round opening encounter against five-time champions New Zealand at the 1995 Netball World Cup at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham in England as her most memorable netball match ever.
“We may have received the beating of our lives but going down 87-22 to New Zealand is no shame at all. It was a great honour to play against the magnificent Silver Ferns, who I still rate as one of the best netball teams in the world,” she says.
“I just admire the way their players go about their business on the netball court. The precision, the accuracy, the speed and the ruthless execution by their goal shooters and goal attackers is praiseworthy. They are one of my best all-time netball nations.”
Apart from the hammering they received from New Zealand, the Namibian women were also thoroughly beaten 71-28 by South Africa but they didn’t go out without a fight, going on to register a memorable 61-37 victory over the Cayman Islands.
It was not only netball for Davin growing up, she also showed promising talent in athletics, describing herself as “very good at highjump” in secondary school.
The former defender, who has tremendous respect for former Namibian goal defender and captain Smurf Rossouw, has also represented Namibia against other African countries like Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Asked if she is happy with her achievements as a netball player, Davin says that she had a very wonderful time playing for Wanderers and representing her country at the same time.
“Of course I am pleased with what I have achieved in netball. Netball was not so professional as it is today but we played for the love of the game. We enjoyed ourselves tremendously but we never thought that we were more important than netball.”
“I have people like Marietjie Brand during my school years, Annemarie Srauss and Rieka Louw at Wanderers who played a very significant role in my netball career. Ex-national team star Ronel Moolman was a little bit older than me and she also inspired me a lot.”
The retired netball star got married to Nico Davin in 1990 and the happy couple are blessed with two children, a 30-year-old daughter, while their 28-year-old son Niko Davin is currently a member of the Namibian cricket team.
Her day starts at 05h00 with her biblical studies before Davin, who is a mathematics teacher by profession at Windhoek Gymnasium Private School, goes to work.
“I was first a teacher at Windhoek High School for 17 teachers while I am now at the Windhoek Gymnasium doing the same job I have been doing for the past 33 years. I still have the same passion for teaching that I had on the same day I started teaching.
“I love my job very much and I still enjoy standing in front of my pupils to teach them. But no matter the importance of maths, it also comes with each challenge, especially when I have to persuade my pupils to take it as a subject and to be passionate about it,” she says.
Davin used to be a netball coach both at WHS and at Windhoek Gymnasium but she has since retired from coaching and is now the team manager of the latter school’s netball team where she loves giving advice and motivating the young players.
The former Wanderers star, who remains humble despite all her achievements in netball, says that she doesn’t miss the gruelling training regimen during her national team days because her coach at the time, Carol Garoes, used to be a very strict coach with a very tough training regimen.
However, the biggest thing she misses is the strong bond they built as national team players and the camaraderie they formed, despite being from different clubs and different cultural backgrounds.
Davin, who retired completely from playing netball at age 50, admits to be living her dream right now because this is the way she imagined her life after her active days and she is still in touch with her ex-national teammate Liezl Garbers, while she teaches with Ronel Moolman.
“I have to admit, I miss the adrenaline rush before every game but my advice to young netball players is never to think that they are more important than the game. Your talent is a gift and netball is a team sport, you rely on your teammates to become a winning unit.”
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