23 August 2021 | Story Ruan Bruwer | Photo Netball South Africa
Refiloe Nketsa, one of the latest Kovsie Protea players in action for the South African U21 team earlier this year.

No less than five players out of the 16 chosen for the Protea netball team hail from the University of the Free State (UFS).

They will travel to Jamaica for a tri-nations series in October. This is the first time since 2007 that the UFS have five members in a team or touring squad.

In 2007, seven Kovsies (Annari Store, Anchen du Plessis, Karin Venter, Adéle Niemand, Elzet Engelbrecht, Maryka Holtzhausen, and Doretha Joubert) were in action for the Proteas.

The five 2021 Proteas – Karla Pretorius (first-year student in 2009), Khanyisa Chawane (2015), Lefébre Rademan (2015), Boitumelo Mahloko (2019), and Refiloe Nketsa (2020) – all started their senior netball careers at the UFS. 

This is a first call-up for Mahloko and Nketsa. Mahloko left the Free State at the end of last year. Chawane is still enrolled at the UFS, Rademan is doing her master’s, and Pretorius is an alumna. 

Rademan was recently named the Members’ Player of the Season at London Pulse where she played in the European Super League. Karla Pretorius, with 94 caps, could possibly become only the fourth Protea ever to reach 100 test caps.

Nketsa was a member of the South African U21 team in 2020 and 2021. She said it was her dream since she was a child to be in the Protea team. “To be called up and given a chance to showcase my talent is a blessing. It still feels surreal. I’m really thankful.” She changed position from goalkeeper to wing defence/centre last year.

Burta de Kock, UFS coach, describes herself as a blessed coach.
“I’m blessed with an amazing calibre of players who are willing to change positions (such as Nketsa) and who are eager to grab every opportunity.
“It is a fortunate position to be in. We work hard to help players reach their maximum potential.”

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