Despite missing several senior players, the SPAR Madibaz netball team have targeted a spot in the top six when they contest the University Sport South Africa tournament in Bloemfontein from July 2 to 6.
Coach Lana Krige said the USSA week was a perfect opportunity to test themselves ahead of the Varsity Netball competition later in the year.
The team will be fielding six first-years next week, but the Nelson Mandela University mentor said she had been impressed with their work ethic leading up to the tournament.
“They have all gone the extra mile to fill big boots and I am looking forward to seeing the result of their dedication,” said Krige.
“We need one player to stand up and say ‘I am the bar’. I cannot wait to see who it will be.”
She felt UP-Tuks, Free State and North-West Pukke would be strong title contenders, but said anything could happen on the day.
“Those varsities all had either full teams or strong representation in the Brutal Fruit league and did extremely well.
“But this is a new competition and, on the day, if the shots fall, it can be anybody’s game.”
Madibaz Sport netball manager Melinda Goosen said tournaments such as USSA were important for them.
“With netball being so popular, we have to be seen as front runners or at least challenging for the top positions,” she said.
“USSA and Varsity Netball are the competitions in which institutions are measured by their success, as well as being the draw cards to attract young talent to our club.”
She added the SPAR Mandela University squad had been among the stronger teams in recent years.
“We have held our own by finishing in the top six at USSA and we are unbeaten in the Nelson Mandela Bay league and tournaments this year.”