For the first time in nearly 7 years, the North-West University (NWU) in Potchefstroom will play host to action from Varsity Sports with more than 150 players converging on the campus on 25 and 26 September for the 2022 edition of the Varsity Netball tournament.
It is no secret that the NWU has been one of the preferred host venues for other Varsity Cup tournaments, including Varsity Rugby, Hockey, and Cricket and as of 2022, Varsity Netball can be added to the University’s sports calendar as well.
“Being able to bring netball of this calibre back to Potchefstroom is not only an opportunity for the University but the students of the NWU community too,” says Heléne Botha, manager of women’s sport at the NWU and co-organiser of what promises to be an exciting 2 days of netball action.
She says that the NWU is honoured to welcome Varsity Netball back to their turf. As with any situation where there is an opportunity, there are however obstacles that need to be overcome.
“A big drawback for us is that the University does not have a big enough facility for the size crowd we would like to attract”.
According to Botha, the University is also currently in the starting stages of its assessment period, posing another challenge.
“Back when we first hosted the tournament, we had a live broadcast on big screens set up outside the venue in the amphitheatre so that all students could take part in the action”.
Tickets for the second bumper weekend were already sold out on Thursday morning.
Fitting with the University’s motto, ‘It all starts here, Varsity netball serves as the foundation upon which numerous netball careers are built. According to Botha, the tournament can indeed be described as the “feeding ground” for the national squad. The number of players, and not to mention coaches, that come from the Varsity Netball backgrounds echoes this description. Not only does the tournament provide players with exposure but it gives the sport exposure as well, says Botha.
“Netball is currently one of the sports with the fastest growing viewer numbers in the country”.
The Varsity Netball tournament is not the only national netball event the NWU has been part of. Potchefstroom and the University also played host to the SPAR National Netball Championships in August this year.
The future for netball in Potchefstroom sure looks bright, however, there is nothing like the present, and for now, we are looking forward to a lot of intercepts, turnovers and a scoreboard that ticks over like clockwork. The action in round 4 starts on Sunday at 13:00 when defending champions Kovsies and the Madibaz take to the court in the NWU Amphitheatre.
By Jana Schlechter