With Varsity Netball 2023 set to begin this Sunday, 20 August, followers of the sport are gearing up for a captivating spectacle as the top 8 university teams converge on the courts to see who will be crowned champions. With a storied legacy as the most successful team in varsity netball history, UFS-Kovsies enter the fray with the weight of expectations on their shoulders, while Wits embarks on their debut campaign, eager to etch their name into the annals of the sport.
The Free State-based team is the most successful in the history of the competition, claiming four titles since the first tournament in 2013.
Head coach Burta de Kock says they are well prepared and her team is looking forward to taking to court.
“I was blessed to pull in Maryka Holtzhausen, a former captain of the Proteas, to help Karin Venter during the time KC Chawane and I were at the World Cup. So we are looking forward to seeing what the team brings to the court with all these experienced coaches. And with the help of our manager, Bianca de Wee, a previous Varsity Netball player, everything has been going well because she knows exactly what the players’ needs are.”
Playing the best netball as a team and being there for one another adds to the Kovsies’ focus, says De Kock.
“Every team wants to end with the gold, that is what we are working for but we are also going out to put ourselves on the court for one another. So our focus will be game by game.
“We are a team of youngsters and we are looking forward to seeing how they are going to explore their experience.”
UFS-Kovsies squad (subject to change): Liame de Lange, Bianca Pienaar, Ane Retief, Elri Groenewald, Reratilwe Letsoalo, Demi-Leigh de Jager, Xandri Fourie, Sheneca Smith, Ruandi van Dyk, Charne van Vuuren, Buhle Kubheka, Lethabo Sehlapelo, Vanisha Wilson, Belinda Janse van Rensburg, Arne Fourie, Angake Gcelu.
This is the first year that Wits will be participating in the Varsity Netball tournament and even though preparations have been going well, there have been a few challenges along the way for the newbies.
Head coach Elsje Jordaan, a former Protea captain and coach, however sees it as part of the process.
“We have only one goal and expectation and that is to go through the tournament to learn and grow. The Wits netball programme has only formally started this year and we are up against established netball programmes.
“We have an extremely young and very inexperienced team, with only one player who participated in the TNL. We are still designing our netball programme and are still very far from where we want to be, but the journey has started and we are excited and looking forward to the challenge.”
Jordaan says despite some obstacles, it is an exciting time ahead.
“It is very exciting that Wits is also now a high-performance programme, since it offers another avenue for players to grow and develop. The national programme relies heavily on the university system as a feeding system and a nurturing platform for young players.
“The role of sponsors and the media in the growth of the sport is immense and plays a very important role in growing netball on all levels. Thank you for your contribution.”
Wits squad (subject to change): Amanda Lisa Chihaba, Alix Horn, Amy Horn, Bongiwe Mbatha, Kirsten Mileman, Giada Prinsloo, Innocentia Ncama, Lerato Thobeha, Nicola Wilson, Oreratile Lentsoane, Panashe Chiranga, Kgotso Precious Montshiwa, Refilwe Tswai, Sidney Coetzee, Simoné van Reenen, Thandiwe Mokiti.
Full fixture list HERE.
More information on tickets HERE.