10 October 2018 | Story UFS | Photo Sonia Small
Kovsies Dream Team takes the netball crown
The Dream Team from the UFS celebrate their victory after beating Tuks by 63-59 in the final of the Varsity Netball competition.

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The Kovsie netball team has the Varsity Netball trophy, one of the most prestigious in university sport, back in the cabinet. With this, they are now the most successful team in the history of the competition, having won three (2013, 2014 and 2018) of the six titles.

The Dream Team earned the prize thanks to a brilliant performance in the final against the defending champs, Tuks, winning by 63-59 in front of a sold-out Callie Human Centre on Monday 8 October 2018. It was the first final staged in Bloemfontein.

The Kovsies was in the lead after each quarter, but Tuks seemed to ascend in the final quarter, leading by 49-46 with nine minutes remaining. The home team then called the power play (when goals score two points) and during a golden five minutes, they built up a 63-55 lead to seal the match.

It was a brilliant turnaround for the Dream Team after losing twice to the same team in July – with 10 and 18 goals.

“The team played excellently, and I am so proud of their performance. I watched them perform throughout this year’s Varsity Netball series and want to congratulate them on their victory on behalf of the university’s executive management and the entire university community,” said Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State. 

“There’s nothing greater than playing for a great team that supports you and trusts you; thus, every time you go on court you want to give your all for them,” said Khanyisa Chawane, who played centre and wing attack in the final.

“We came a long way; there was no way we were going to give it away once we got to the final. Kovsies have a legacy and this is a legacy we want to carry through.”

Chawane was named the Player of the Tournament. She is the first player to be awarded the best player title in the Premier League, National Championship, and Varsity Netball in the same year.

Centre-court player Sikholiwe Mdletshe also referred to the legacy.

“We are starting our legacy, we knew we had to win, other teams can’t come here and dominate.”

“It is such an honour, the fact that we could do it in front of our home crowd support. We waited very long for this,” said captain Alicia Puren, who played in her final game after five seasons with the Kovsies.

According to Burta de Kock, the coach, the players used the power play in the final quarter very well in which they scored eight goals to four.  “We spoke a lot about being calm and keeping position in those two minutes.” De Kock said the large crowd was a huge advantage. “We’ve never had such a massive crowd before. It definitely helped us.”

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