Coach Martha Mosoahle-Samm and Karla Pretorius on 2024 TNL Win: ‘On Another Level’

The 2024 Telkom Netball League has cemented its place as the premier netball tournament in South Africa with its intense competition on the court, and after the Freestate Crinums won the title this year, gsport spoke with coach and captain about their historic win. All Photos: Netball South Africa

The 2024 Telkom Netball League has come to a close and it’s safe to say that this season was a roaring success, and the nation’s elite national netball competition has more than cemented its place in South Africa with the intense competition on the court. 

It was the Freestate Crinums who emerged as the winners this year after their narrow victory the Gauteng Jaguars 47-46 this Wednesday, and Crinums coach Martha Mosoahle-Samm, who guided her team to the title this year after having lost in year’s final, says this win is a sweet victory.

“This win means everything to us, we thought that we owed it to ourselves,” said Mosoahle-Samm. “We owed it to the Freestate supporters, because last year was a big disappointment.”

“We thought we had it last year, it slipped right through our fingers, so we knew how important it was to take it this year. We would do whatever it takes to win it, so it means everything and something big. It’s one of the highlights of my coaching career!”

TNL Winning Freestate Crinums Coach, Martha Mosoahle-Samm

Mosoahle-Samm says this year’s tournament was one for the books with the stiff competition from the first match as teams were put to the test. 

“This year was just at another level, it was so amazing to see. Even the division sides teams were neck and neck, right from the preliminary stages to the semi-finals, it was so tough, it was open for everyone,” said Mosoahle-Samm.

“You look at both sections, nobody knew what was going to happen until the top four, and even in the top four, it was just so competitive.

“Telkom has done wonders in taking netball in South Africa, and making it level (playing field). If you look at the competition that a few years ago, it was pretty obvious who was going to win, now it has become level, and it has become a dream for every girl who is sitting and watching netball on television.”

At the conclusion of this year’s tournament, the humble 34-year-old Spar Proteas stalwart Karla Pretorius was named Player of the Tournament, after captaining the Crinums to the trophy win.

Pretorius told gsport it’s important to her to be at the top of her game, so she can be at her best to give her all for her team.

“Being an athlete, you want to go out there and give your best and play at a high standard, so that didn’t change for me. It’s always been about the team, so, I do what I need to do to be the best for the team, and if you get an accolade like that, then it’s just a bonus! 

“For me, it doesn’t change how I go about doing my thing, I am going to be the best I can be for the team and group,” said Pretorius. 

“It’s also credit to the great players you have around you, because with netball, you can’t do it on your own. We had a good, unique group together which I enjoyed, and helped contribute to that success.”

TNL Winning Freestate Crinums Captain, Karla Pretorius

Since its inception, the TNL has allowed netball players to dare to dream, the league has improved the standard of competition and has allowed many players to realise long their dreams. Pretorius says playing in a home league has afforded her an opportunity to be able to raise her little one, and be with her family with all its home comforts. 

“If you want to do it professionally, you need to go abroad, and not everybody gets that opportunity. You don’t always want to go abroad, you want to be here with your family. 

“I have enjoyed being back in this environment, and I can continue living my life. I can have my house, I can be the mom at home, I don’t have to put my life on hold to do it professionally.”

“Being abroad was a great opportunity and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but we need to create something here for players not to have to make that sacrifice, because that has been a big challenge in the past, and a big reason I enjoyed this journey is because I am home.”

“We need to make netball professional in our country, not just for that reason but also to make sure we can compete with other countries, it’s great but there is still a lot that needs to be done and we desperately need to go professional.”

Pretorius went on say that the sponsors have played a huge role in making the competition a success and she is grateful to them for backing women’s sport. 

“I honestly believe Telkom has played a big role, we can’t do it without the sponsors, we have Telkom and Spar, which are really big names on board with netball for a few years now, and I think being part of women’s sport, the fact they continue backing us is so fantastic and we need more of that!”

“We need people who take chances to back female sport, and I believe that sponsors will get value for money. The fact that they are willing to back women in sport is something we are very, very grateful for.”

Mosoahle-Samm agrees, adding that, with the competition being televised, it allows young girls to dream, as they can see what they can achieve if they work hard at their netball careers.

“Every little girl can watch it, if they aren’t able to go the stadium,” said Mosoahle-Samm. “That alone is too big for every little girl, to sit there and dream about playing the sport at the highest level! This is major, and it also gave players playing at this level the courage to go back and work harder, and that is what we see this competition happening now.”

Now that the Crinums captured that all-important title, their coach says this is the springboard to more success in the coming season, as they now know what it takes to win such a trophy. 

“Once you know that it’s doable, everyone buys into the idea and they buy in the dream. We needed to do this first, this was the most difficult part (winning the title) – convincing the players and believing in them, so they know that they can do it.”

“The build-up is going to be easy because it’s a repetition of what has already been done, I think that’s why the Jaguars were so good for so many years, because they started winning! If you can do that, everything becomes easy, because you create a culture of winning, you create a culture of building up, you create a culture of players believing in a dream, your plans and processes,” she concluded. 

The 2024 Telkom Netball League has cemented its place as the premier netball tournament in South Africa with its intense competition on the court, and after the Freestate Crinums won the title this year, gsport spoke with coach and captain about their historic win. All Photos: Netball South Africa

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