|The University of Johannesburg will be aiming to build on the improved showing they gave in the University Sport South Africa week when their Varsity Netball campaign gets under way in Bloemfontein on August 27.
In July, the UJ outfit showed how their game had progressed by finishing third in the Ussa event, which was three places better than their 2016 effort.
Now coach Leigh-Ann Smal wants the team to build on that by aiming for at least a top three spot in the annual Varsity Netball tournament.
“The team really reached a high with some good performances at Ussa and we have been working on the areas that we have identified that need improving,” she said.
“We have also been concentrating on what strategies we need to take into the tournament to help us match the favoured universities.”
Smal rated the teams from North-West University, UP-Tuks and Free State University as the leading contenders.
She described the UJ squad as balanced and said they had been working on their mental strength for the challenge ahead, building on their positives and making sure they improved any weak points.
“We will have a good mix of players this season, because there is some experience but also several new girls in the squad. We have been assessing players on all three campuses to select one team and there will be something of a fresh look.”
The squad have a testing start to their campaign in Bloemfontein when they take on NWU and Free State in their two matches.
In four years of Varsity Netball there have been only two champions, with Free State winning in 2013 and 2014 and NWU taking the honours in 2015 and 2016.
“We know we have some tough matches to start with, but, if we can do well in those games, it will give us something to build on for the season,” said Smal.
Besides the matches in Bloemfontein, there will also be fixtures in Stellenbosch on August 27 and 28.
Nine teams will compete in the fifth edition of the tournament, which ends with the finals on October 9.
The game between Kovsies and UJ will be screened live on SuperSport Select (channel 210) at 7pm on August 28.