It was all about rebuilding the university community post COVID-19 restrictions when the University of the Western Cape (UWC) celebrated Women's Day with a fun-filled and engaging netball tournament.
The event, held on 9 August, was organised by the UWC Staff Sports Team in the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Development and Support. Scores of students from UWC residences, including the Ruth First Residence, Cecil Esau, Cassinga as well as UWC’s Netball 3rd Team and Kovacs, together with Cape Peninsula University of Technology, joined the staff on the netball courts.
“Since 2020, these students, many of whom were first years, never had opportunities to engage or to contact UWC staff at a social level. They don’t know the staff,” said Busisiwe 'Bubbles' Mzalazala, UWC Staff Sports Team executive committee member and one of the event organisers.
“The idea was to build the self-confidence of these young women and assure them that UWC belongs to them, and encourage them to get involved in campus activities.
“They must know that UWC is their home away from home. As staff members, we wanted to assure students that they must feel at ease with us as their mothers on campus, because without either students or staff there would not be UWC. We are one big family.”
Mzalazala said the unity that the organisers have built with the young women made them feel more comfortable in their UWC environment. “The engagement students showed on the field when sharing lunch with them was amazing. Students responded very positively to the tournament and desire another one. It was so amazing to see them working with the organisers, cleaning the courts and catching up on the first semester experience when they were at their homes”.
The tournament was well organised, with seven teams competing in two groups. Their safety inside the university premises was assured, and gender-based violence was also part of discussions when staff were socialising with students.
“We also focused on conflict management and we trained them on how to resolve the conflict on a playground. At the end of the day we had fun and celebrated with the winners - the Ruth First Residence.”