The SPAR Madibaz netball team have set their sights on a top four spot when the Varsity Netball competition gets under way in Johannesburg on Monday.
The Madibaz open their campaign against the University of Johannesburg at UJ and will be immediately exposed to a tough challenge against the Gauteng-based team.
NMMU netball manager Theresa le Roux said they often experienced hard games against their opponents from up north.
“The height of their players is always a problem for us. I don’t know what they feed them in Gauteng,” Le Roux said with a laugh.
“I think that will be the main challenge for us during the course of the tournament because the top teams all have very tall players in most positions.”
Le Roux, however, said their preparations had gone well since their previous tournament in the University Sport South Africa (USSA) week in July.
“Our aim is always to finish in the top four, but for various reasons we are missing some of our frontline players, so this is going to be one of the most difficult tournaments for us in recent years.”
Le Roux said she rated Pretoria University, Stellenbosch, Free State and NWU-Pukke as the top sides.
“It is normally a battle for fifth spot between us and UJ, although this time we are aiming for a top four spot,” she said.
After finishing third in the inaugural tournament, the Madibaz have ended fifth twice and sixth once.
Le Roux said the tournament was a wonderful opportunity for the Madibaz players to gain experience on a national stage.
“It is very important for both players and the university as everybody gets some exposure on TV.
“It is also an opportunity for players to measure themselves against the top players in South Africa.”
SPAR Madibaz squad: Eloise Webb, Sanelise Mgijima, Arne Rust, Hlumisa Sithonga, Nandipha Jack, Hadrin Tenteni, Nolisindiso Twani, Bianca Blom, Sibubele Mandeka, Melodine Jacobs, Philene van Niekerk, Riana Buys, Lana Krige (coach) and Zanele Mdodana (assistant coach).