The SPAR Madibaz netball team will be aiming to exploit home-court advantage when they host Varsity Netball matches at the Vodacom NMMU Indoor Centre on Sunday and Monday.
Following a morale-lifting win against the University of Johannesburg on Monday, the Madibaz will want to take that momentum into their next two matches against UCT and Stellenbosch.
NMMU coach and former national player Lana Krige said they were delighted to be playing at home and were ready to embrace the experience.
“Some teams have problems playing at home because the pressure can get to them,” said Krige, “but we have never had that problem.
“Our girls absolutely love playing at home because there is a lot of support and hype – for us it’s a great advantage.”
Krige knows, however, that there will be no easy matches, particularly against Maties.
“The matches against Maties are always tight affairs,” she said.
“In 2013 we beat them and went on to win the bronze medal, so this time we want to give Maties a good go. It will be a big plus if we can win this one.”
The Madibaz mentor said they had also had tough matches with UJ in the past and was pleased with their efforts in difficult conditions in Johannesburg this week.
“I felt this was a crucial win for us on a slippery floor which did not suit our style of play.
“We play a game with sharp changes of direction, which we weren’t able to use on Monday. UJ play a more hanging, slower game because they have very tall players.
“I thought the girls did fantastically well and it was really a great win for us.”
Krige praised the Varsity Netball concept, saying it gave excellent exposure to student players.
“Netball is a big sport in the country, but perhaps not as big in the Eastern Cape.
“Varsity Netball gives our players a chance to show how good they are in front of their family and friends.
“It’s also a chance for young netball players to see what levels they should aspire to and I’m hoping more schools will attend the matches to see what is on offer if you study at NMMU and play netball.”
Krige said she was fortunate to have former national team-mate Elsje Jordaan assisting them with their preparations.
“Elsje and I know each other well and it’s good to have someone you trust helping you to prepare.
“She was with us at UJ and will be coming to PE this weekend to take the girls for a few sessions to make sure they are ready for the challenge ahead.”
Sunday: Maties v UP-Tuks (4.30pm); SPAR Madibaz v UCT (6pm).
Monday: UCT v UP-Tuks (4.30pm); SPAR Madibaz v Maties (6pm).