UWC hosted a function to send its cricket and rugby teams off with the best of luck as they take part in the crucial 2016 Varsity Cricket and FNB Varsity Shield rugby competitions.
Both teams narrowly missed winning the competitions last year, falling short in the finals, and expectations from the University community are high for them to bring the titles home this year.
Varsity Cricket is underway at North-West University in Potchefstroom until 4 February [Udubs had won one game and lost one on the first day of the event on 31 January], while the Varsity Shield runs from 9 February until 10 April, with at least three home matches scheduled for the UWC team.
Wishing the teams luck, Professor Vivienne Lawack, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic, said it was important to speak about the development of students, and committed that the University will do all in its power to ensure that athletes become the best sports people on the fields and still succeed academically.
“The question is how you become the best sports people ever without neglecting the academic side,” she said, adding that the two aspects of university life would work together to help them attain their full potential.
Prof. Lawack encouraged the cricket team to improve on their second place finish last year and bring home the title. “Please don’t come back second. We are done with finishing second and we going to win the trophy this year.”
Turning to rugby, the DVC reminded coach Chester Williams that he had promised to get UWC out of the Varsity Shield. “My dream for you is that this should be the last year for the team in the Varsity Shield,” she said.
“The challenge is there. It’s what you make of it and how you grab this. We are behind you as UWC and we are immensely proud of your achievements. That is why it was so sad for us when you got so close last year.”
Winning the Varsity Shield will earn the UWC team promotion to the much-sought after Varsity Cup, a premier university rugby competition, and a victory in the Varsity Cricket will allow the University team to represent South Africa at the 2017 Red Bull Campus Cricket World Finals.
Meanwhile the UWC Cheerleaders team will take part in the Varsity Cheerleading Championship that will also take place at North-West University on 3 February. The eight-university competition is tied to the Varsity Sports competition to bring off the field entertainment.
It will be the second time that UWC cheerleaders take part in the competition, after they finished third in 2015 [The team did not qualify in 2016]. But manager Nadia Mgulwa is confident her team is much more prepared this time around - their first participation and failure to qualify last year, were a learning curve.
“The challenge we had was that UWC had no gymnastic club, which makes it difficult to recruit cheerleaders that have a gymnastics/cheerleading background, and our routine was more of dance than typical American cheerleading,” Mgulwa explains.
The team has since acquired the services of a coach with cheerleading experience, “and the girls look sharp and ready to do well in the competition”.