Madibaz Sport director Yoliswa Lumka will oversee an important year for South African student-athletes after being appointed chef de mission for two competitions in 2021.
She will first head up the delegation for the World Student Games in Chengdu, China, in August and then take charge of the national squad for the Confederation of University and Colleges Sports Associations (CUCSA) Games in Lesotho in December.
After a difficult year when the Covid-19 pandemic decimated university sport, Lumka said there was a widespread feeling of excitement at competing in these events.
“Definitely, excitement is in the air because for most of them it will be their first time qualifying for the Games. The competition is very tough as they are all pushing to make the team.”
She said they were looking at a strong contingent for these Games.
“We have some of the athletes who were with us in Italy [for the 2019 World Student Games] who won a variety of medals and they will be aiming to defend their titles.”
Having that talent available, she said, would help them to try to achieve their objectives.
“In Italy, when I was the deputy chef de mission, we finished 10th. The target for China is to give an opportunity to individual sport codes to either maintain that or do better.”
Lumka said the vision for the CUCSA Games was to give the sport codes that were not selected for the World Student Games an opportunity to start their preparations for the next cycle, culminating in the 2023 World Student Games in Russia.
“We also plan to maintain our dominance in the southern region by again finishing in overall first place.”
The Madibaz Sport boss said it was an honour to be chosen to head the country’s delegation for events of this magnitude.
“It shows that the hard work I have been putting in over the years is being noticed and recognised. The responsibilities that come with this position are that I have to make sure that the teams are ready to compete and produce good results.”
Lumka added that it was also a feather in the cap for the Port Elizabeth university.
“It’s very important that, as a sport department, we make sure that we not only have personnel who are excelling locally, but who are capacitated to grow to make a contribution at a national level.
“It means we are moving in the right direction and that our student-athletes are supported by well-trained experts in their specific fields, whether administrative or technical.”
She said the World Student Games represented the highest pinnacle a student-athlete could achieve.
“We regard them as our student Olympic Games and, as universities in South Africa, we need to give the young men and women the platform to showcase their talents and achieve their dreams.
“It will be an honour to represent Madibaz as an ambassador on the national and international stage and we will do our best to make the country proud.”