Four from FS in Netball World Cup squad

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The Free State legend Karla Pretorius in action for South Africa in a Test against New Zealand. The seasoned player will no doubt have a big impact during the Netball World Cup in Cape Town. PHOTO: ACTIONFOTO/ NURPHOTO

The historic 2023 Netball World Cup in Cape Town is looming and there is a lot of excitement among the players, especially in the Free State.

On Friday night the national coach, Norma Plummer (from Australia), named her 15-member squad that will be representing South Africa at the showpiece on home soil for the first time.

Four of the players picked for the World Cup are from the Free State, and they have all played for both the University of the Free State (in Varsity Netball) as well as the Free State Crinums (in the Telkom Netball League). They are Karla Pretorius, Lefébre Rademan, Khanyisa Chawane, and Refiloe Nketsa.

Pretorius is certainly one of the most valuable players for South Africa, and one can go as far as to say she is arguably one of the best in the world. She brings a ton of experience and she gets to play with the very best week-in, week-out in Australia.

Rademan, in her turn, has just recently recovered from an ACL injury she sustained while representing South Africa at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. Her return to the court at the recent first block of matches at the Telkom Netball League in Polokwane has certainly been a big boost for the Crinums. Their results back that up.

Chawane is just a stalwart of Free State netball and she is starting to become a serious player in the national setup, while Nketsa is certainly one of the most exciting players around.

The Proteas will bank on the experience of Pretorius, but for the player the World Cup will be extra special as she will be able to have her immediate family at court side for the first time at a major event.

“Personally, I’m over the moon with my selection and so grateful to have been given another opportunity to represent the Proteas – especially at a pinnacle event like the World Cup,” Pretorius told Bloemfontein Courant from Australia.

“The fact that it’s at home is even more special. I’m going to have my mom, dad, husband and daughter next to the court. That is something that I can’t wait to experience.”

Nketsa told Bloemfontein Courant she was hoping to be picked, but admits that it still came as a surprise when her name was read out.

“The selection of the 15 players that will represent South Africa at the World Cup was a huge moment for me,” said the Psychology student.

“It was an opportunity that I honestly took as a fifty-fifty because it’s such a great and huge squad of players that we have. Everyone on the team fully deserves to make it into the squad.

“Playing on such a big platform on home soil is honestly a dream that one prays for. Now that it’s here we have to fully embrace it and play and perform for our country. Once again it truly is an honour – it’s such a big moment for us as Free Staters and South Africans. It’s a changing moment in history.”

Elmere van der Berg who playes for the North West University and North West Flames also hails from Bloemfontein, but studies in Potchefstroom. She matriculated at Hoërskool Jom Fouché.

Before these four ladies get to represent South Africa at the World Cup in the Mother City, there is the matter of the Telkom Netball League that needs to be played. The second block of matches will get underway next week at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria.

The Proteas are in Pool C for the Netball World Cup along with Jamaica, Sri Lanka, and Wales. The World Cup will be played from 28 July to 6 August 2023.

Proteas World Cup squad – Bongi Msomi (captain), Karla Pretorius (vice-captain), Khanyisa Chawane, Izette Griesel, Sesandile Ngubane, Refiloe Nketsa, Phumza Maweni, Lenize Potgieter, Lefébre Rademan, Nicola Smith, Jeante Strydom, Nicholé Taljaard, Elmere van der Berg, Shadine van der Merwe, and Ine-Mari Venter. – MORGAN PIEK