Mother, entrepreneur and squash pro: Lizelle story

South African, who is part of the ongoing Squash World Cup in Chennai, talks about her passion for sport and more
South Africa's Lizelle Muller (green jersey) in action on Tuesday |  Ashwin Prasath
South Africa's Lizelle Muller (green jersey) in action on Tuesday | Ashwin Prasath
CHENNAI: "Do you always have to mention that? That and my age," South Africa's Lizelle Muller, standing beside her brother Dewald van Niekerk, breaks into laughter at the Express Avenue mall in Chennai on the sidelines of the Squash World Cup 2023 on Tuesday. The Gqeberha-born was asked a question that she has become used to, perhaps even bored or tired of to an extent. The question — How is she juggling between squash, four kids and managing the business (Techni Electrical, a solar energy service company) she runs along with her husband Marius Muller at the age of 38?
Hailing from a squash-mad family, Lizelle started playing at the age of six but turned professional only in her mid thirties. In fact, she became the national champion at 37 in 2021. It is almost as if she had a midlife crisis much earlier, settled everything down at home before becoming a professional squash player. Now, her days often start with early morning sessions when the kids are sleeping, some days with her husband watching the kids. She then goes to work, comes back and helps them with homework in the afternoon before some evening training sessions.
On the field, Lizelle has achieved everything she has wanted to. She says as much. Ask her why she continues playing, you'll get a simple answer that you'd probably expect from the 10-year-old who fell in love with the sport for the first time. "I said last year that I was going to be done playing at this level, but always come back for more," she smiles. "It is like a drug, it is an addiction. I can't let go which I actually do need to let go at my age. I started later, but since I started later, my body can push and mentally I feel young," says Lizelle, standing next to Dewald who is 13 years younger to her.
For Dewald, to watch his sister go professional when she did and the resolve with which she pushes herself has been an inspiration in itself. "I think there are a lot of players who get to 32-33, their body can't handle anymore. For her to be 38 and play the way she does is pretty good, especially with kids it is difficult. I have seen a lot of people who completely stop playing after having kids, but it's incredible," he says.

As for the answer to the question on how she manages to do everything she does, Lizelle has nothing more than a line as the answer. "It is challenging, working and having kids and trying to play. But everything comes my way and I am pretty happy with the whole experience," she signed off.  

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