After a challenging opening weekend in the Varsity Hockey tournament, the NMMU-Madibaz women’s team will be taking a positive attitude into the second half of the competition in Potchefstroom on Friday.
Madibaz defeated University of KwaZulu-Natal in their first match in Stellenbosch, but lost the remaining three games to end the weekend near the bottom of the log.
However, coach Michael van Rensburg said the team would be motivated to turn the tide in their remaining matches, having learnt much from playing against the country’s top varsity sides.
“The girls have been really positive and are fully aware of our long-term vision,” he said. “The first weekend was incredibly tough but they have held their heads high.
“We are looking forward to the second weekend as we look to improve on the performances we gave in Stellenbosch.”
Van Rensburg added that a priority for the squad would be to keep working on their fitness and conditioning.
“Statistically we played our best hockey in the first and third quarters when we were fresh.
“It was clear that in the second and fourth quarters we were fatigued and this is where the opposition targeted us.
“We have come up with short-term solutions to the problem, but our conditioning is most definitely a crucial area for us as we look ahead to the USSA (University Sport South Africa) week at the end of June.”
With their opponents piling on the pressure, Van Rensburg said they would also be looking at improving their defensive systems.
“We weren’t anywhere near our best in this area and we reviewed this during the week.
“The other facet we would look to improve on is our general spatial awareness and improved decision making on-field.”
He said they would continue to work on the processes they had in place and he was confident the team would grow as a unit.
“Tactically we will look to address certain areas. As mentioned, our defence will be looked at as well as our execution in the final attacking third of the field.
“Another focus will be how to best use the periods of play when we do have a numerical advantage due to either cards been issued or in the power play stage.”
Van Rensburg said he could see a definite improvement in the women’s teams thanks to tournaments such as Varsity Hockey and the Premier Hockey League.
He felt, however, that the timing of the tournaments needed to be addressed to avoid “potential burnout from the high workload in a short space of time”.
“But, for us as an institution, it is vital that we attend the top tournaments.
“Despite the results, the ladies have learnt a lot and it will only stand us in good stead as we move forward into the new era we are creating for ourselves.”