Irene van Dyk

Irene van Dyk bigraphy, stories - South Africa-New Zealand netball player

Irene van Dyk : biography

21 June 1972 –

Irene van Dyk MNZM (née Viljoen; born 21 June 1972) is a South African–born New Zealand netball player. She is one of the world’s best-known netball players and the most capped international player of all time. Note: Some sources claim Mary Waya as the world’s most capped netballer, but many of her caps (for Malawi) were not against full international sides.

She formerly captained the South African national netball team, representing them a total of 72 times, but moved to New Zealand in 2000 where she plays for the national team, the Silver Ferns. She became a citizen of New Zealand in 2005. She won the Halberg award as the New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year in 2003 and was again nominated in 2005.

Her move to New Zealand and almost immediate placement in their national team caused some minor controversy, as the only rule in netball at the time for players switching between nations was a ban on playing for more than one nation in a calendar year.

She lives in Wellington, but played for the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic in the National Bank Cup, New Zealand’s former domestic netball competition which ended in 2007. She plays for the same team in the ANZ Championship which replaced the National Bank Cup in 2008. She is a primary school teacher, and has one daughter named Bianca with her husband, Christie. Irene van Dyk is a Christian and supported the "Lifeathon" fund-raising event for Christian music radio network Life FM.

NZ career

Since moving to NZ Irene’s game has grown dramatically with notable improvements in her ball handling/security, movement and space awareness. She is also much stronger physically than she used to be and this has only added to the nightmare image she often presents to opposing players and fans alike

2002 Commonwealth Games

Van Dyk received a silver medal as part of the New Zealand team that lost in the final against Australia at the 2002 Commonwealth Games held in Manchester, England after double overtime.


On 5 July 2004 she came on at the start of the 3rd quarter of the third test match in a series against Australia and scored 24/24 to turn the match around. And then she went to Australia in November 2004 where the Silver Ferns were defeated 2-1 by a determined Australian team. Features of that series were the apparently poor quality of the umpiring, the loss of Australian Captain and Goal Keeper Liz Ellis from part of the 1st Test and all of the 2nd Test after being injured during a clash with van Dyk, and the noticeable increase of calls going against van Dyk penalising her for stepping and contacting other players.


In the winter of 2005 a one off Test was played in Sydney where the Silver Ferns would gain revenge over their old rivals from Australia. Irene van Dyk would once again be a dominant factor in the win and would cement her position as the world’s greatest goal shooter especially against Australia’s own formidable shooting weapon — Catherine Cox whose own form fell away after being worn down by New Zealand’s Goal Keeper Vilimaina Davu. Once again the standard of the umpiring was questioned this time mainly by the Australian team and coach. Final score—50-43. Both teams then went on to prepare for their next clash scheduled for October in Auckland New Zealand.

In recent years Irene has played national league netball for the Waikato Magic and in 2005 spearheaded them to their first National Bank Cup title. Incidentally their win broke the six year stranglehold the Southern Sting had held over the competition.

In October 2005 Irene would once again rise to the occasion and help in presenting Australia with a debilitating loss. In a match notable for the loss of Australian Captain Liz Ellis for three quarters of the match, New Zealand were simply too good for Australia with their speed, ball handling, uncompromising defence and shooting accuracy.

Partnered with impressive Goal Attack – Jodi Te Huna, Irene’s composure, class and athleticism came to the fore and Australia appeared to have no response to this and the overall effort of New Zealand which was at once scintillating and merciless. Final score—61-36. New Zealand would go on to record an undefeated year for 2005 including a successful end of year tour to the Caribbean where they would trounce Barbados and Jamaica and blood several newer players.