With less than 48 hours to go before Varsity Athletics 2019 kicks off, we spoke to Ilhaam Groenewald, Chief director of Maties Sport ahead of Friday’s first meeting at Coetzenburg Track in Stellenbosch.
Is the excitement mounting ahead of Friday’s meeting?
Absolutely, due to the upgrading, it has been a while since we’ve hosted the Varsity Athletics or the University Sport SA national university competition, so we are looking forward to hosting our fellow university student-athletes, coaches and staff.
We’ve seen pictures on Twitter of the construction taking place at Coetzenburg, new floodlights being installed etc. Are we 100% ready for Friday?
Yes, we are definitely ready, because we hosted a few schools athletics events since the start of the year, including hosting over 200 international athletes in November/December 2018. The feedback to date has been great and we will continue to strive for operational excellence.
This unbelievable drone photo of our Coetzenburg Stadium was taken at night with only the stadium lights switch on! The stadium facilities have undergone a multi-million rand upgrade which included an A-grade new track and a state-of-the-art Musco LED lighting system. pic.twitter.com/ptiL22EM1b
— Stellenbosch Univ (@StellenboschUni) February 25, 2019
Can you please provide us with a summary of what the new facilities are.
It is quite an extensive upgrade and includes the provision of five long jump pits, two javelin run-ups, three pole vault areas, two high jump areas and a full athletics track. Indoor upgrades include a stadium club house, a conference room, ladies’ and men’s locker rooms, admin offices, additional facilities for medical and sport science staff, referees and players, access improvement, a press and a time-keeping box.
Our stadium is also the first musco LED system installed in South Africa. Installation of the masts took precise planning to ensure that all areas of the track and field are sufficiently lit to the required lux levels for athletes and broadcasters for high definition broadcasting – and to enhance spectator experience. Our lighting system compares to stadiums such as Twickenham rugby stadium, Arsenal’s Emirates Football stadium and St. George’s Park Cricket Ground.
Can we expect a sizeable crowd?
Yes, because the town and the university has a rich athletics history and with most of our athletics meetings we’ve had a packed stadium and Friday will be well supported. We are calling on all our students, staff, local communities and schools, universities and clubs to support the event.
What are the expectations of Team Maties?
Our goal is to retain our status in the Varsity Athletics competition, however also to reach the top three ranking spot. Considering the vast talent and high quality athletes across universities participating, this will not be an easy goal to achieve. It is Maties Sport’s goal for all our high performance sport codes to be ranked amongst the top 3 and the same for Maties Athletics. This includes a 3-year fast-track plan and athletics is in its second year, so the expectations are high.
It seems like all in sundry are ready and raring for Friday night’s meeting to get underway. The first events starts at 15:30 and tickets can be bought on the Varsity Sports app or by clicking here!
By Shafiek Mouton