From Desert Jewel to public servant 

Menette Hukununa in action for Namibia against Singapore. Photo: contributed

Few netball players have struggled as much as former Civics and national netball team star Menette Hukununa did to play at the highest level.

Although she was gifted with natural flair, agility and endurance, the Windhoek-born star never had it easy.

“There was this girl called Selma from the Kavango, who had all the qualities one could ask from a centre player. I was new in the role, because I was just converted by my coach, Anita Hijarunguru, into a centre player from my childhood goal defence position.

“I was selected as one of three non-travelling reserves to be on standby in case one of the travelling squad members got injured. As fate would have it Selma got sick during the second match in South Africa and was flown back, and I had to replace her,” Hukununa says.

She says she played the match of her life against South Africa and played so well that, although they lost the match, her excellent performance prompted the organisers to test her for any performance-enhancing substances.

“That day I cemented my spot on the team . . . and delivered the best performance of my life,” she says.

Hukununa’s involvement with the national team lasted from 2010 to 2012.

The road to the top did not come easy for the former Moses van der Byl Primary School pupil, who started playing netball seriously when she went to Goreangab Junior Secondary School and later to Cosmos Secondary School, where she joined a star-studded Civics outfit.

“I was still schooling at the time, I think in 2000 when I was in Grade 11. When I joined Civics it was just for the sake of joining. There were a lot of very good players, and I was just trying to make my way up.”

Hukununa says she was just a back-up player at Civics at the time, trying to work her way up in the club.

“When I finally made the Civics first team, coach Anita wanted me to play for the national team and pursued me to go to the national team trials. I was considered small and short and could not make it in the defending area.

“My coach advised me to attempt playing centre. I was fast and I was very good at defending in mid-court. Anita converted me into a centre, which only worked into my favour, because I was considered the best centre in the country for two years,” she says.

Hukununa says her height is no exception, and that many centre players in Africa are short.

Menette Hukununa with the Wanderers player of the year trophy in 2015 and her Wanderers teammate Morne Pienaar. Photo:contributed

She describes her playing style as speedy and tactical.

“Playing for Namibia was not only interesting, but an eye-opener as well. In South Africa the level of netball is very high, but their style isn’t too physical.

“However, it is different in other parts of the country, especially in West Africa, where the game is a little rough.

“I am naturally a smart player and I use my speed to my advantage. I analysed my game very well, and I also analysed my opponent, because I was a good reader of the game. I am very much an endurance person, and I was very good with my footwork,” Hukununa says.

The Windhoek-born star played against over 10 countries for the Desert Jewels, including Botswana, Fiji, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.


Hukununa has obtained a bachelor’s degree of business management from the Namibian University of Science and Technology, and represented the Tertiary Institutions Sport Association of Namibia at the Confederation of Universities and Colleges Sport Association Zone VI Student Games in South Africa and Zambia, respectively.

Now married to Reinhard Hukununa and the proud mother of three children, Hukununa has been employed as a migration officer at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security for the past 14 years.

“My line of work is more administrative. I do a lot of counter work where I interact with the public. I do a lot of paperwork, and we do a lot of enquiries. I am in the citizenship department and we are dealing with applications for citizenship from all over the world.

“Our job is not easy at all and it has a lot of challenges of which the biggest is people trying to bribe you to obtain Namibian national documents,” she says.

Hukununa, who is decrying the lack of commitment from today’s young players, says she is starting to live her dream because she was granted an opportunity by Tigers coach Viva Viyanda Kamberipa to be her assistant.

This would enable her to plough back into the game, she says.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News