Sunshine Coast Lightning captain Karla Pretorius says “only time will tell” about where she’ll play netball in 2022 as she paid homage to the local community who has helped welcome the club with open arms.
While her Lightning season only just ended in a heartbreaking loss to Fever last weekend, Pretorius is now preparing to join the SPAR Proteas who will be traveling to Jamaica for the Margaret Beckford Sunshine Series from October 10 to 22.
Considered one of the best goal defences in the world, Pretorius has been a key cog to the Lighting in 2021, a season she said was a roller-coaster.
“On the loss, we were disappointed with it as any other team keen to go all the way would be. Our preparation for the game was so good, it was a good week of preparation,” she said.
“It was disappointing for us and personally my own performance, we did everything we could in the game. The way we fought back is something we could be proud of, but it shows if you aren’t at your best, it will be brutal out there.
“It sums up our season, we were up and down in terms of consistency… we had a good game, then a not so good game. And that’s how it went even in that game.”
As one of the only regional-based professional sporting franchises, Lightning is now part of the DNA of the Sunshine Coast, something Pretorius acknowledged as a two-way street.
She said the community sometimes didn’t realise just how much the club’s players needed them.
“As much as the community think they need us, we are so dependant on them. They are our neighbours… one thing I truly appreciate is the opportunity given by the Sunny Coast community.
“They do so much for us on and off the court – there’s a special bond. When people think of lighting, it is the club and the whole community and that’s really valuable to us and the reason for our success.”
Whether or not Pretorius returns, she’ll go down as one of the greatest players to have ever played with the club.
“I have enjoyed my time being on the coast and playing in the Suncorp Super Netball. Only time will tell.”
Focus remains on professionalism in South Africa
As Karla Pretorius prepares for another SPAR Proteas cap, she believes a professional league in South Africa is crucial to develop the sport in the country as the nation prepares to host the Netball World Cup in 2023.
Pretorius said her time in the SSN had helped her become a better individual player, taking the experience back to her national side, but hoped a league could be established in South Africa to avoid players leaving their families for netball careers.
“Ideally, it would be great to get our own professional league in South Africa, something they’re striving for and that it will take time to get us to that level,” she said.
“If you do have to leave, there’s so much that comes with it, you leave people at home and make sacrifices to come to places like Australia.
“I wouldn’t do it any other way… but it would be great having our own league at home.”
Netball South Africa announced the Telkom Netball League would return in 2021, under strict COVID-protocols meaning all SPAR Proteas players would be ruled out for respective provincial sides.
Despite this, Netball South Africa President Cecilia Molokwane said the league, in its eighth year, was important as it continues to grow and produce more national team candidates.
“Our goal of turning netball professional is edging closer and closer with every tournament we host and play in,” she said.
“As Netball South Africa, we are truly grateful to have found strategic partners in Telkom, because they continue to enable us to allow many young girls an opportunity to play netball at this level and be in line to be scouted not only for national duty but overseas contracts as well.
“I am very positive that this relationship will continue for a while and yield the desired results for both parties.”
This year’s edition of TNL will be played over two legs split between Pretoria from September 5 to 12 and Rustenburg between October 9 and 17 2021.