South African international Karla Pretorius will not return to Sunshine Coast Lightning in 2024, instead remaining in South Africa with her family.
The Sunshine Coast has become a second home to Pretorius, who signed with the Club in its foundation year — winning two Suncorp Super Netball premierships in 2017 (where she won grand final MVP) and 2018.
One of the best defenders in the game, Pretorius regularly ranked in the top five for intercepts and deflections, still holding the record for most intercepts in a season with 69 (four per game) in 2019.
Pretorius is also vice captain of the South African national team, the SPAR Proteas, representing her country at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and 2018 and the Netball World Cup in 2015, 2019 (where she was awarded tournament MVP) and 2023.
Off the court, Pretorius announced her pregnancy at the end of 2021, returning home to South Africa and missing the 2022 season with Lightning. Baby Kara came along in June of 2022, and Pretorius worked hard to get herself back on the court as quickly as possible.
A lot of sacrifices were made by the Pretorius family to ensure Karla could continue to live her dream. While her husband, Werner initially accompanied her and Kara in Australia, he eventually returned to South Africa for work.
Pretorius said while she wants to continue playing, all the current uncertainty led to her decision and she ultimately had to put her family first.
“I am incredibly grateful for my time at Lightning and can say that I’ve given it my all each season,” she said.
“It’s been an amazing seven years and I’m thankful for all the support from our fans, community and the Club over the years.
“It’s been an honour to wear the Lightning dress. Winning two premierships and Captaining Lightning will be achievements I’ll always cherish, with the Club always having a special place in my heart.
“I want to thank everyone at the Club, especially for the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve built.
“I wish Lightning all the success in 2024 and I’ll be watching from afar. I’m not ruling out anything if the opportunity arises in the future.”
Lightning Head Coach Belinda Reynolds thanked her for her outstanding contribution to Lightning over the years.
“Karla is a phenomenal person and one of the best defenders in our game. She has contributed an enormous amount of time and effort into this Club and is a much-loved Member of the Sunshine Coast community,” she said.
“She has been instrumental in the success of the Club over the years, and seeing her come back in 2023 after having her first child was truly inspirational. I wish her nothing but the best and hope she enjoys her time with her family in South Africa.”
Pretorius leaves the Club with a number of accolades and achievements to her name, including:
- 2017 — SSN Premiership
- 2018 — SSN Premiership
- 2018 — Player of the Year
- 2018 — Players’ Player of the Year
- 2019 — Player of the Year
- 2019 — Players’ Player of the Year
- 2019 — Members’ Player of the Year
- 2020 — Player of the Year
- 2020 — Players’ Player of the Year
- 2023 — Team Spirit Award