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Time to reflect on the game with former SPAR Protea, Maryka Holtzhausen. She played 116 international matches for the SPAR Proteas and captained the side (2013-2016). She represented South Africa at three Commonwealth Games Championships (2010, 2014 & 2018) and three Netball World Cup Championships (2011, 2015 & 2019) and was instrumental for the Free State Crinums, Loughborough Lightning (UK) and the Severn Stars (UK). Retiring after the 2019 Netball World Cup she’s back in Bloemfontein and reflects on her playing career and to give us some predictions and advice.

NSA: Can you please highlight the best 12 players you’ve played with or against, and why?
Lenize Potgieter – my go-to person on and off the court
Karla Pretorius – I don’t think there is many that would not agree that she is the best
Bongi Msomi – great human
Erin Burger – got to grow as a player with her from a very young age
Iselma Parkin – she was the definition of perseverance
Shadine van der Merwe – she is the one that just never gives up
Phumza Maweni – a fighter
Adele Niemand – she made you expect better from yourself
Lienke Perold – we played a great moving circle
Chrisna van Zyl – always calm on court
Ash Brazill – although I only got to be in her team once, her passion is electrifying
Julie Corletto – No one sticks like she does
All of these players were or are just great players overall!

NSA: Tell us a bit more about one of your favourite/memorable games as player. What happened, any highlights, what was the score in the end?
MH: After 116 caps there are definitely more than one memorable match, but the most recent one was probably my second last match for the SPAR Proteas, the semi-final against Australia in the Netball World Cup. It was a game of two halves, great highs and great lows. We lost by two goals, but we gave it everything we got.

NSA: What have you been doing since retiring from playing national/international netball? Any highlights there?
MH: I have enjoyed retirement very much. I traveled Europe straight after the (2019) World Cup, amazing experience and a great way to start my life “after netball” I am back in Bloemfontein, working at the University of the Free State, pursuing my second love – which is anything with numbers.

NSA: And during this period of isolation, what have you been up to?
 I am lucky enough to still be able to work from home, but I make time to keep fit and active every day.

NSA: If you could turn back the clock and use your netball knowledge of today, to give advice to the younger you, what would you tell her?
The only thing I will tell the younger me is to enjoy every minute of every experience – good or bad – because it goes by way too quickly.

NSA: Do you have a special message to fans out there who might be feeling overwhelmed during these extraordinary times?
I think the situation we currently find ourselves in give us an opportunity to reconnect with what is important in life, whatever that my be. Make time to embrace that and stay connected – via technology, get out for a walk or jog at least once a day and do those things on your to-do list that you never get time for. Just trust and have faith that all will be well and enjoy the journey.

NSA: What about netball or training advice to players or coaches, any tips?
If you think you have done enough, do more! Also use this time, to work on things you want to improve. There are great ways to keep training at home – be creative.

NSA: South Africa had a memorable 2019 NWC campaign. What are you looking forward to about the 2023 NWC? Any predictions?
I am looking forward to the great way I know NSA will host this event for the world. There is no greater advantage than home crowd advantage and I know the SPAR Proteas will do us proud.

Thank you Maryka for taking time to share with us.

Photo Credit: Reg Caldecott, SASPA, BackpagePix, Mario van de Wall, Netball Australia