Grace Matyayi received top honors at the recently concluded 21st edition of the Namibian Newspaper Cup which was held in the Otjozondjupa region. 

The 17-year-old, Grade 12 learner at Otjiwarongo Secondary School scooped the tournament’s Best Netball player, SRSM chats to Matyayi about her achievement and Netball journey. 


Thank you for chatting to us, please tell us about yourself and where you are from?

I am Grace Matyayi, a young cheerful person who loves to keep busy with school work or home chores when I am not playing netball. Born in Windhoek some 17 years ago and grew up in Okahandja, I am an enthusiastic person with a simple desire to just be happy. I am currently a Grade 12 Learner at Otjiwarongo Secondary School.

How was your childhood like?

I was born in a Christian family and my childhood was shaped by a great parental support system, who have always believed in the Lord as our redeemer. Perhaps that’s where the blessings come from. 

My childhood was very spectacular and fun, since I always liked to play soccer and netball in the streets of Okahandja with my friends and cousins or just playing any fun-sports, including all the type of childlike games such as hide and seek. 

Going to church on Sundays as well as on Saturdays for choir practice, remains a routine, including early morning church service during week days, these routines played a big role in shaping my childhood. In a nutshell my childhood was mostly about playing and running around. 

You were recently awarded the overall Best Netball Player at the Namibian Newspaper Cup, what does this mean to you?

This is a great honor and I am profoundly humbled, to receive the award for the second year in a row. It means a great deal to me because at that moment when I received the “Best Overall Player” award it was my believe that it’s a recognition for my hard work, commitment to sports and specifically the talent which I believe is God given. 

I’m grateful that I was chosen amongst 168 talented players. I believe it’s not only an individual effort but a combined effort, thanks to my team mates, my coach at school and Coach Marvelous Khaebes-Ochar for believing in me. It means a lot to me personally. 

What did it mean for you to represent Otjozondjupa Region?

Woow, Otjozondjupa is such a great region with vast landscapes and diverse communities and cultures. I feel privileged to play for and represent this beautiful region. 

It means a lot to me personally and I feel honored to be part of the great Otjozondjupa Netball Team. I just love to be here, it’s an oasis of great opportunities with one of the best schools, sport facilities especially in Otjiwarongo. Yes, what a privilege it is. 

What do you make of your region hosting and ending second at this year’s Newspaper cup?

We remain a great team and it was one of my best experiences so far, Otjozondjupa taking second place in the tournament is a great achievement.

 I say so because it is our first time to reach the final since we started participating in the Annual Namibian Newspaper Cup. 

Becoming second was not our goal or aim as a hosting regional team, in fact we prepared ourselves well, the coaches and the leadership of Otjozondjupa kept motivating us and pushed us to the edge, we practiced but I guess Khomas Region was just lucky the second time. 

It was the best opportunity for all sports lovers in Otjozondjupa. I felt so excited to be playing at home in Otjiwarongo and yes! the organization of the 21st Edition of the Namibian Newspaper Cup 2023 was top class, well organized and best of its kind thus far. The crowd was exciting, motivating and cheering on for us to play hard. We are a great team still and I enjoyed every moment. 

At what age did you start partaking in Netball and is this something you want to take to professional level?

 Actually, I come from a family lineage of sportsmen and women, my mother, my 4 aunties both were great netball players and athletes for local teams and company teams as well. In fact, one of my uncles Augustinus Matyayi played for a Premier League team “Cuca Tops” in the 80/90s as well as Civic Football Club in Windhoek. 

While I think this runs in the blood, my sports journey began from a Childhood level at home, I started at senior Primary while I was 9 years old. 

I also played for GW Secondary School in Okahandja and in 2021 I moved to Otjiwarongo Secondary School where I now play for the School Team and got scouted to represent Otjozondjupa Region last year 2022 in Oshakati and where I was selected last year to play for the Namibia Under 19 Netball National Team where we went to represent Namibia in Malawi in 2022. 

What did your family and friends make of your achievement?

They are highly proud, and they are very supportive off me to explore my talent, I am grateful for such a great circle of friends, teachers, coaches and family. 

They congratulated me and our regional team they blessed me with good compliment and gifts. 

What are some of your goals in life?

My goals in life are to serve the Lord and become a successful person in life. 

I plan to study hard to pass my Grade 12 this year and get a Scholarship to pursue my studies at home or abroad towards a graduate Degree. 

Secondly, to play netball for a reputable Premier League Team in the Country or abroad, as well as to represent Namibia with Netball National Team. 

How important is it for you to get an education?

My primary focus is my education because it plays a huge role in a person’s life. 

I believe that as a person your education and your sport must collaborate with each other. 

Education is important to me because I believe that it is the greatest equaliser to liberate the mind. If sports does not open doors for you then you will have your education by your side. 

Who inspires you?

I am inspired by the word of God, in the Bible and secondly by my parental support system. The people in my family circle that believes in me especially my mother who raised me. They are wonderful people. 

What is a quote you live by?

“If you want to live like a Queen, you will have to work like a slave”

What is your advice to young girls that want to play sports?

There are consequences that an athlete can face or go through in life, however, one must NEVER GIVE UP on chasing their dreams in life. No matter what the world will say about you whether good or bad, just focus on what you love to do. Put your Education first and while maintaining your commitment to sport which will help you with mental fitness. 

Remember, “Hard work beats Talent” 

Fun facts:

Favorite Namibian Netball player: Emily Kutako

Nickname: Emmy

Netball position: Goal Defender (GD)

Dream tournament to play in: The Netball World Cup

If you were not a Netball player you would be: I guess I would probably be a long distant Athletic or a sprinter, but it’s only God that knows.

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