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We all know that the media doesn’t always get all their info correct. What is the strangest thing you have read about yourself that wasn’t true?We all know that the media doesn’t always get all their info correct. What is the strangest thing you have read about yourself that wasn’t true?

Once I was actually running on the treadmill while reading a news article about myself having an injury that ruled me out of being selected for the national netball team. The irony just cracked me up.

What is the most memorable tweet or post you have received, or been tagged in?

There was a couple of youngsters that made a collage with lots of netball action pics of me and shared it and wrote that I was their role model. Receiving something like that is always very humbling and it stays with you.

Everybody starts their working careers off small. What was your very first job?

I worked as a waitress in a coffee shop my mom’s friend owned. My maths was so bad I ended up owing them money. (I was only 16 when I did the job, and I did receive an A for Higher Grade Maths in Gr12)

The international sports is a tough arena to break into. What encouraging words do you have for anyone with dreams of representing their country?

Be prepared to have a lot of setbacks, a lot of disappointments, a lot of heartache. It’s inevitable that you will fail. But in the end it’s all about how you get up and stay motivated, stay focused and keep working hard. International sports starts in your backyard, believing in yourself when no else does, persevering when you feel like giving up. It boils down to your attitude about life, because it will reflect in your sporting career too.

Having traveled a lot you must have met a wide variety of people. Who was your most memorable?

What an absolute privilege to be able to see the world and travel, but the best part was to meet all the different people along the way. I always try to make friends wherever I go. I have met my heroes in the Netball, Irene van Dyk and Leana du Bruin who are both South African Netballers that played for New Zealand. The first time I met Leana (Vlooi) du Bruin we were at the Netball World Cup in Singapore 2011, she came up to me and asked for my name (I nearly passed out) just to learn that she was my baby sitter for a brief period growing up as she dated our neighbors son and they would baby sit my brother and I after school until my mom came back from work.

I am sure you have encountered a few fans along the way. What has been your favourite fan encounter?

Except for the outreach on Social media, I once had a life size cardboard cutout (Standee) while playing Varsity Cup that was “stolen” by a high school netball team and held for ransom for a meet & greet and also some tickets to attend a netball game. Needless to say I found it hilarious and we have contact to this day.

Even the biggest stars have heroes they would love to meet, given the opportunity. Who would you like to meet?

I have been so privileged to have met my heroes, but there’s one sport star that I was obsessed with growing up, Steffi Graff, International Tennis player, that I wouldn’t mind meeting one day. I had a big poster of her in my room and remember talking to her like she was real.

What is it about them that makes you admire them?

All of the women athletes I admire like Steffi Graaf, Irene van Dyk, Vlooi de Bruin, Natalie du Toit, Caster Semenya I look up to are all strong women, with drive, ambition and a fighting spirit. They’re sportsmanship is contagious and they’re all beautiful inside and out. It’s harder for female athletes to get recognized.

IMG 4319Most people have someone who inspired them to become what they are. Who was your inspiration?

I’m very lucky to have had amazing coaches and strong women influencers in my life. People with the likes of my late coach Melinda de Bruin, Protea coach Elize Kotze, my beautiful and strong mother Vanessa Graaff du Toit and my late grandmother Marita Graaff. These women have inspired me to be the best version of myself I can be, to love and respect all people, to never give up in anything you believe in, to be true to yourself, to never compromise on who I am.

You are recently on Dancing With The Stars. Tell us a bit about your experiences on the show.

The show meant more to me than most people realize, I got to meet amazing people, I got to do something I have never done before and on top of it my 85 year old oupa got to watch me on TV every Sunday.I loved every second of the show.

How did you family react to that interview?

The Spuitpoep interview? My family wasn’t even surprised, people who know me didn’t even flinch because they know its just who I am. I am known for speaking my mind, saying things the way I think and having a no-filter, brutally honest approach to life. They’re reaction was “That’s Vanes” followed by a lot of laughter. I was happy I could make someone laugh for a second and forget about the worlds problems for a little bit.

You have a B.Com Human Resource Management. What are you plans for when the time comes to retire from sport, and does your degree factor into those plans?

I completed my Honors in Industrial Psychology after completing my degree too, I enjoy the field of combining Business and Psychology, and with my sporting background I believe I have the ability to incorporate my experiences with sport into a more corporate environment. But for now, I’m just really enjoying playing and coaching netball, I even started commentary and presenting Netball through Supersport which I definitely want to pursue.

Now onto a more personal note for those superfans out there> Where did you grow up, and what was it like growing up where you did?

I grew up in Pretoria, my mom is a full time working single parent and I have a younger brother so had a lot of responsibility growing up which wasn’t always easy but it groomed me quite well becoming an adult. I went to boarding school at Afrikaanse Hoer Meisieskool in Pretoria which was the best years of my life as I could participate in all the sports and after school activities which was great.

Did you always want to be a professional sportswoman, or did you have different dreams as a child?

I’ll be honest, I had a lot of dreams as a child from becoming a doctor to a lawyer to a school teacher, but sport gave me the opportunity to go to University and pursue an academic career too. I always dreamt that I would end up as a professional sportswoman but knew that I had to provide financial support to my family so had to have all my bases covered knowing that as a professional sportswoman I’d have to retire one day.

How has your life changed with your success?

As the years go on I’ve learnt that doors will open as ling as you stay focused and keep working hard. Life is forever changing and it’s important to stay adaptable to whatever life throws at you. I gave been very fortunate in having great opportunities, but at the end of the day it’s what you make of the opportunities that life presents to you.

What has been your most challenging decision in your career thus far? What made it so challenging?

I have had to relocate quite a bit because of sporting opportunities, I’ve lived in Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Australia, England etc. It’s always tough living alone and away from family and friends with all the traveling, even though it stays a massive privilege. I’ve also had numerous amounts of injuries that complicated decisions regarding my sporting career, which was very challenging.

With so much experience under your belt at such a young age, what is next for Vanes-Mari du Toit to conquer?

I definitely aspire to be the best version of myself, so I’ll always explore different things going forward. I have a couple of business ventures that I’m busy with and very excited about, including a sport clothing line and some TV opportunities. So no matter what life presents me with I’ll take it on with both hands. Do your best and God will do the rest. I still want to play and coach netball for as long as my body allows me to, and then focus in things that I enjoy to do. Life is too short to be boring don’t you agree?!

Having done so much work and travel, what has become your fondest memory of your career thus far?

Some of fondest memories include some memorable wins in my Career playing for South Africa over teams like Jamaica and England, closing the gap against NZ and getting the “most valuable netball player in Africa award at the African Championships. Also the day when I received my degree was a big highlight, that moment you realize hard work pays off and that all the sacrifices was all worth it in the end.

Everyone harbours a pet peeve. What is yours?

I don’t like my hands being dirty, So I don’t leave the house without my hand sanitizer, I also don’t like people who think a lot of themselves (think they’re better than everybody else) it’s just so annoying.

Random Question. If you could choose any superhero to play on a big budget Hollywood production, who would you play?

Everything in me wants to say Deadpool, because I love his character. But for family viewing purposes I’d say Wonder Woman.

Have you enjoyed this little interview?

I loved how you made me relive and think about my journey thus far. Thank you so much.

Final Question: Do you have a special message for all our readers for the Freedom Day?

Are you going to be FREE or are you going to be DOM?! It stays your choice.