With an 80-41 victory over UWC in their first match of the 2017 Varsity Netball competition on Sunday, the Maties Netball team showed that they will give everything they have to represent Maties the best way they possibly can during the tournament.
“I said to the girls that we have a mountain to climb. We are actually going to war these next few weeks. Our character will be tested and the work that we put in will need to speak for itself," said Maties Netball coach Zanele Mdodana.
Zanele, who has captained both the South African U20 and senior Proteas teams and has a wealth of experience courtesy of her 85 caps for the national side, took over the coaching of the team at the beginning of the year.
Netball is her passion.
“I have had the honour and privilege to have been coached by really amazing women, women who understood that netball is just a tool – that it goes beyond the four lines of the court. That it's about building the human being and empowering the girl child to become not only a great player but also a great person."
She believes a good coach can change a game, but a great coach can change a life – and that is what she would like to achieve.
The team not only has a new coach, but also a new captain in senior player Megan Gossmann, a former Stellenberg High School learner. She follows in the footsteps of her good friend Juline Rossouw, who served the Maties team as captain and goal defence (GD) for many years.
“I have big shoes to fill, but I've learnt so much from Juline. When I wonder about something, I think: 'What would Juline do?' or I give her a call."
Megan, who graduated with a degree in Sport Science last year and is currently busy with her Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), is playing in her fourth Varsity Netball tournament.
She is supported by other senior players in the team, among them Sasha-Lee Petersen, Charmaine Baard and Abeline Olivier.
“We used to play netball against each other while we were still at school and we were all members of the Western Cape team that won gold in the SA U19 competition in 2014."
The players would love to reproduce the success they experienced in 2014 in this year's Varsity Netball competition.
Being a student-athlete is challenging, says Megan. The team members train at least ten hours per week, with gym sessions starting as early as 05:30 in the morning.
“It's not easy combining everyone's academic schedules with a High-performance (HP) programme. We joke and say our friends don't even invite us anymore, because they know that we will either be training, playing netball or studying."
However, Megan appreciates the lessons she learns from sport, for example time management and how to deal with different people.
She also relishes the challenge of being captain: “I think I am strong enough to represent the interests of the players and I like to lead. It helps that we have strong personalities in the team. We get things done."
She believes that they are ready for the competition.
“We didn't have an easy year and it took us a while to find our feet but things couldn't have come together at a better time."
Other home fixtures at Coetzenburg, Stellenbosch:
Monday 4 September: Maties vs UJ 19:00 (Live on Supersport)
Monday 18 September: Maties vs Kovsies 19:00 (Live on Supersport)
Monday 25 September: Maties vs Madibaz 19:00 (Live on Supersport)
Tickets available on the Varsity Sports website or app.