The Madibaz-NMMU women’s team are set for a testing examination when they take on South Africa’s leading university teams on the opening weekend of the Varsity Hockey tournament in Stellenbosch, starting on Friday.
A total of eight teams will contest this popular tournament, which rotates annually with the men’s edition.
The University of Johannesburg will be defending the title they won in 2015 and will be looking for a strong start. Four matches will be played this weekend, with the competition concluding in Potchefstroom from May 12 to 15.
Madibaz coach Michael van Rensburg said the Varsity Hockey offered a fantastic opportunity for students to display their credentials on a higher stage.
He added it would also give NMMU’s younger players the chance to test themselves against some of the best teams in the country.
With five players from the 2015 squad included, Van Rensburg said they were excited about the mixture of experience and youth they had in their squad.
“Lauren Nina was the top goal-scorer at the Premier Hockey League (PHL) last year and will add good experience up front, while others to watch include Caitlin Gouws and Kanyisa Gwata.”
He said the squad had done much work in preparation for the tournament, concentrating on fitness, technical skills and tactics.
Van Rensburg said there was a mixture of excitement and nervousness in the squad as some of the new faces prepared to take on their more fancied opponents.
“We have set ourselves the target of finishing in the top five,” he said.
While all the teams would be competitive, he identified UJ, Free State University, UP-Tuks and Stellenbosch as favoured title contenders.