After losing to Stellenbosch University in the opening round of Varsity Netball, the University of the Free State (UFS) kept the trust and smashed the same opponents eight days later to lift the trophy.
The UFS netball team claimed their fourth crown – two more than any other team in the eight years of the competition – when they won the final by 55-39 in Stellenbosch on Monday night. This is the biggest victory margin in a final. The UFS team has now won all four finals in which they participated.
According to coach Burta de Kock, she did not say much to the players after their first-round loss by eight goals. It was their only defeat in nine matches.
“I left them alone and I knew they would fix what had to be fixed. We kept the trust the whole time.”
“The players promised one another before the final that they would bring their best to the court. We are blessed to have such wonderful players taking the lead and guiding and mentoring the youngsters,” De Kock said.
Captain Sikholiwe Mdletshe also mentioned the first encounter as the turning point. “We got the team together and decided to fight as an army. We never looked back.”
Khanyisa Chawane, who was the Player of the Match in both the final and semi-final, said, “We told ourselves we are going to a final and we are going to win it, and that is the mindset we came here with and what took us through.”
Prof Francis Petersen, UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, congratulated the champions. “Under the leadership of coach Burta de Kock and captain Sikholiwe Mdletshe, the team worked exceptionally hard to reach the top, and their commitment and courage paid off.” “Thank you also to the rest of the coaching staff. The final was spectacular, and we are proud of what they have achieved. I salute our champions on behalf of the entire university community,” Prof Petersen said.