This year’s tournament, the 8th edition, will take place over 10 days in a bio-secure environment which will test all eight university teams’ physical and mental toughness.
UWC’s coach, Danlee Mathews, said as much in an interview with Varsity Sports Media.
“The players are hungry to take to the court again, play the sport they love and perform,” Mathews revealed. “But it will be taxing on their bodies with no easy games.”
This will be a first Varsity Netball campaign for the former Proteas player and erstwhile Baby Proteas assistant coach. She took over from Janine du Toit (who coached UWC in their first three tournaments, 2017-19) last year when all Varsity Sports tournaments were postponed due to COVID-19.
Mathews will undoubtedly call on the five players of her 14-strong squad who have Varsity Netball experience to ‘show their colours’ during the condensed tournament, which would usually run for longer than a month. Gailynn Potts, a Wing or Goal Attack, is the most senior player considering this will be her third such tournament. Centre-come-Wing Attack Heike Swartz featured in the 2018 edition, while captain Courtleigh Behr (who plays Goal Defence) and Heidi Kuzatjike (also a Centre of Wing Attack) made their debuts in 2019. Meanwhile, in Danelle Lochner, Mathews will also have a capped Proteas player to call on. The Goal Attack or Goal Shooter played Varsity Netball for Kovsies in 2016 before going on to make her Proteas debut in 2017 (via SA Under-20 and -21). Lochner then returned to the Cape in 2018, but has had to wait patiently to represent UWC in Varsity Netball… until now.
As it happens, while that quintet will more than likely form the spine of Mathews’ chosen starting 7, there is some unique insight which two of the 2021 ‘freshmen’ can provide. Adri Kannemeyer (Wing or Goal Attack) and Renisha Daniels (Goalkeeper or Goal Defence) were in the inaugural Tornados squad – alongside Behr with Mathews as head coach and UWC assistant coach Babalwa Madikane as statistician - which competed in last year’s Telkom Netball League, which took place in bio-bubble at University of the Free State.
UWC – whose best Varsity Netball finish is sixth in 2017 and 2018 – will begin their campaign on Saturday, 21 August against Madibaz (centre pass at 13:30).
Graphics/Images courtesy Skhu Nkomphela/UWC Sport