Varsity Netball has not only changed the lives of those involved, but the South African netball landscape too.
Two former Proteas players can’t help but feel a bit jealous when watching this year’s tournament and thinking how amazing it would have been to play in it.
Karin Venter, a former international and current Kovsies assistant coach, says Varsity Netball has brought the game to the people.
‘This is a great opportunity for young players to showcase their talents. Kids are looking up to these players now because they are on TV. This is an amazing tournament and I would have loved to have played in it. It’s a prestigious tournament to be a part of and has given South African netball a massive boost.
‘All I want to do when I sit next to the court is play!’ adds Venter, who retired in 2007. ‘I wish players from my generation had got the chance to play in a tournament like this; it would have been wonderful.’
Annie Kloppers, who became one of the best umpires in the world after her playing career, says Varsity Netball has grown every year and changed the landscape of the sport with each edition.
‘I really want to play when I sit next to the court. What a great experience it would have been … I am so jealous! I hope today’s players realise how privileged they are to get all these opportunities to go out there and play the game they love – and on television! Varsity Netball gives the sport great exposure.’
Kloppers, who played for Maties and retired in 1998, remains the only netballer to have won the Maties Sportswoman of the Year award.
‘The level of play in Varsity Netball is of such a high standard,’ she says. ‘All the universities come to the party and it’s also a great tournament for the umpires.’
Kloppers has used the current tournament to watch her umpires in action and provide some feedback on their performances.
‘Since Covid-19, there have been few opportunities to blow games of a high standard, so I am thankful for Varsity Netball,’ she says.
By Eunice Visagie
Main photo: Kevin Sawyer/Varsity Sports