05 July 2021 | Story Dr Nitha Ramnath

Karla’s story is one of determination, and her success is the result of two decades of hard work. Although netball is not a professional sport in South Africa and athletes don’t get paid for it – quitting was never an option for Karla Pretorius, our guest in the sixth episode of the Voices from the Free State podcast. 

François van Schalkwyk and Keenan Carelse, UFS alumni leading the university’s United Kingdom Alumni Chapter, have put their voices together to produce and direct the podcast series.  Intended to reconnect alumni with the university and their university experience, the podcasts will be featured on the first Monday of every month, ending in November 2021.  Our featured alumni share and reflect on their experiences at the UFS, how it has shaped their lives, and relate why their ongoing association with the UFS is still relevant and important. The podcasts are authentic conversations – they provide an opportunity for the university to understand and learn about the experiences of its alumni and to celebrate the diversity and touchpoints that unite them. 

Listen to the podcast 

Our podcast guest

Widely considered as one of the best netballers in the field, Karla was judged the Most Valuable Player at the 2019 Netball World Cup, officially making her the world’s best netballer. Netball has always been a passion and dream that Karla wanted to follow, and while the route was not an easy one, she persevered. A South African netball player currently playing for Sunshine Coast Lightning in the Australian Super Netball league, as well as South Africa’s SPAR Proteas, Pretorius has won back-to-back premierships with the club. Before joining Sunshine Coast Lightning, Pretorius played for the UK-based Team Bath in the Netball Super league and was named in the Super Netball team of the year for 2018. She is the first South African to feature in the Super Netball league. 

Pretorius’ accolades include holding 77 senior South African caps, with appearances at the Commonwealth Games (2014 and 2018) and the Netball World Cup (2015). She participated in the 2011 World Netball Series in Liverpool, UK, the 2015 INF Netball World Cup in Sydney, Australia, the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, with an outstanding performance at the 2015 Netball World Cup held in Sydney, Australia. 

Pretorius previously played for the netball team of the University of the Free State – between 2009 and 2015 – and represented the Free State Crinums Netball team that won back-to-back titles in the 2014 and 2015 Brutal Fruit Premiere League. In 2014 and 2015, Pretorius was awarded the Varsity Cup Netball Player of the Tournament. Other awards include the Kovsies Senior Sportswoman of the Year (2016), Volksblad Senior Sportswoman of the Year (2016 and 2017), Free State Sportswoman of the Year (2017 and 2018), and Volksblad Sportsperson of the year (2018).  Pretorius is vice-captain of the South African national netball team, the Proteas. Karla was in 2017 the first South African netball player to play for a team in the new Australian National Netball League. 

Pretorius obtained her Bachelor of Dietetics at the University of the Free State (UFS) in 2014, and a master’s degree in Dietetics in early 2019. 

Stay tuned for episode seven to be released on 7 August 2021. 

For further information regarding the podcast series, or to propose other alumni guests, please email us at alumnipodcast@ufs.ac.za 

For all Voices from the Free State podcasts, go to https://www.ufs.ac.za/alumni/alumni-home/alumni-news/alumni-podcasts 

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