In an unprecedented move, half of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s netball team have been named in the South African student squad, the academic institution announced on Monday.
The six Spar-NMMU players were selected on the basis of their individual performances at the University Sport South Africa (USSA) tournament, which took place at North-West University’s Potchefstroom campus earlier this month. The team placed fourth overall.
“It’s obviously a very big honour and a first for the university,” said NMMU sports manager Theresa le Roux. According to her, they caught the eye of the selectors with strong performances throughout the week.
Captain and wing defence Janine Daniell, goal keeper Nontle Gwavu, centre Mampho Tsotetsi and goal shooter Dumisane Chauke, all former members of the national squad, once again cracked the nod.
They are joined by new inclusions Zanele Vimbela and Elzaan Lotter in goal defence and goal attack respectively. “We’re very pleased to see rising stars like Zanele and Elzaan being recognised for their talent and dedication,” said Le Roux.
Members of the 30-strong national squad will vie for a place in the 12-person team to compete at the World University Netball Championships, which takes place in Cape Town in July next year.
“It will give the girls great international exposure and the opportunity to see some of the world’s best student netball players in action, many of whom represented their countries at the elite World Cup in Singapore last week,” said Le Roux.
“Unfortunately, Nontle and Mampho will not be eligible as they turn 27 before the world champs.” However, said Le Roux, they would still be in contention for a spot at the Federation of African University Sports (FASU) Games in Botswana next April.
She attributed the club’s success to hard work under the guidance of former national player and head coach Lana Krige. “Lana and Maryka (Allaway) put in many long hours coaching the girls. They were certainly the fittest team we’ve ever taken to the tournament.”
Five of the six players are also members of the Eastern Province team, the Ibhayi Gales, which competes in the national Netball Grand Series, while Gwavu represents her home province of Gauteng.
They will all play a critical role when the Spar-NMMU team mounts its title defence in the EP A League at the Young Park courts in Port Elizabeth starting later this month.
The team will be aiming to continue its dominance with a seventh consecutive series win.