The NMMU Madibaz netball team are aiming to get their 2015 Varsity Netball campaign off to a good start when they take on Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town in a double-header on Sunday and Monday. The team from Port Elizabeth will face hosts Maties at the Coetzenburg Indoor Centre in Sunday afternoon’s opening match and Ikeys at the same venue the following evening. The Madibaz will be one of eight competing universities that also include defending champions University of the Free State (Kovsies), University of Pretoria (Tuks), Vaal University of Technology (VUT), North-West University (Pukke) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ).
According to netball manager Theresa Le Roux, this year’s Madibaz team has a good mix of youth and experience, with five new players joining the side. She says: ‘With no teams in the A section in the local Eastern Province league it was quite challenging to get game time but otherwise our preparations have been going well.’ She said the Madibaz were aiming to move up the rankings after finishing fifth last year.
They took sixth spot overall at the University Sport South Africa tournament earlier this season. Le Roux said the Madibaz’s focus for this year’s Varsity Netball campaign was to give the younger players the opportunity to play at a high level of competition. She said their strong senior defenders would anchor the team this year: ‘Nobu Phuza and Hlumisa Sithonga have been playing top netball at the moment. Nobu was just included in the South Africa senior netball squad.’
Mione Marais will lead the side with Arne Rust as her vice-captain for the tournament. Le Roux says: ‘Our first game against Maties will be a tough one because Stellenbosch is a strong side. But we had a good game against them at the USSAs, only losing by seven points, so we are looking forward to the rematch.’ She added that current USSA champions Tuks would be the team to beat.
Madibaz: Bavuyise Matyumza, Hlumisa Sithonga, Nandipha Jack, Kara Willemse, Danielle Hofstetter, Nobubele Phuza, Mione Marais (captain), Eloise Webb, Nolusindiso Twani, Arne Rust, Yolande Willemse, Phileen Van Niekerk
Photo credit: Michael Sheehan/SASPA