Nelson Mandela University netball coach Lana Krige is anticipating the closest Varsity Netball season yet as her charges prepare for a good showing in the six-week competition that starts on Sunday.
Krige said the eight teams that will do battle in the fifth season were closer matched than ever and, with fewer national players on the team sheets, she believed the competition was wide open.
“Varsity Cup is going to be very interesting and I think this year will be a lot closer than before. I think it’s going to be exciting,” she said.
“Every year the competition is getting closer in terms of scores and more teams can win it.”
Having placed fourth last year based on a technicality, Krige said the goal would be for the SPAR Madibaz to earn a place in the top five.
“We would obviously like to repeat our result because last year we snuck into fourth, which was quite lucky. I would like it if we could get that based on our result, not on other things.”
With a healthy balance of experience and new talent, Krige said the team were on a good path to achieve their goals.
Led by captain Nandipha Jack, she said they were a close-knit group of women who were determined to leave everything on the courts.
“I always say you can’t say you’ve worked hard because every team has worked hard, but our girls are very competitive and hungry for this. We’ve got a unique group in that they’re very goal-oriented and believe in hard work.”
In addition to their usual training, she explained the team had enlisted the help of habit analyst Guy Krige.
“These days it’s not just limited to how strong and fit you are, it’s the strength of the mind as well. It’s the first year we’re ready to add this level and we’re looking to find ways in which we can incorporate the girls’ habits into their play.”
Krige explained the insight helped determine what type of training worked best for each player and therefore kept their sessions interesting and productive.
The former South African netball player said she looked forward to see the team’s newest addition, Carla Viviers, in action.
Krige said the first-year student had been overlooked during the trials, but she got in contact with Viviers when they needed a goal shooter for the University Sport South Africa tournament.
“I called her up, got her in and she has been absolutely brilliant. She’ll be getting the odd start and some game time.
“I think she’ll be the find of this tournament.”
In addition to Viviers, Krige said the team’s usual stars would also be in the lineup.
“We’ve got Nolusindiso Twani, Nandipha Jack and Jeannie Steyn. All the girls you’ve been seeing over the years are still there and that’s quite nice.”
The SPAR Madibaz outfit will start their campaign against the Vaal University of Technology in Stellenbosch on August 27.