The Madibaz basketball teams are ready to handle the pressure of playing on their home turf when the University Sport South Africa tournament is held in Gqeberha later this month.
Nelson Mandela University will be fielding teams in the men’s and women’s sections at the event that will take place at its Missionvale and South campuses from September 22 to 26.
It will be the first time the varsity is hosting the tournament since 2012 when 16 teams competed.
Madibaz Sport basketball manager Bernard Petersen said a total of 20 institutions would be involved this year, providing a feast of basketball for the country’s top student-athletes.
“There is always a lot of excitement at hosting the USSA tournament, but it also puts plenty of pressure on the home teams because there will be expectations on producing some good performances,” he said.
“We find ourselves in a building phase at this stage and will be fielding relatively new teams, but will continue to work hard in our preparations for the week.”
The situation around the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the preparation of many teams, added Petersen.
“Because of this there is the strong possibility of some surprises happening during the week, although I must say that Wits and Vaal University of Technology have always been top contenders and should again be teams to reckon with.”
Despite the pandemic adding complications to the normal demands of hosting an event of this nature, Petersen said they had accepted the challenge.
“This pandemic will remain with us for a while and we will have to live with it,” he said.
“The new normal is something that we will have to embrace and we are working very hard to ensure the tournament runs smoothly. As the local organising committee, we are doing everything we can to make it a memorable occasion.”
He added that they had been forced to think out the box to satisfy Covid regulations, but were ready for the tournament.
“Unfortunately no spectators will be allowed during the week and the players will be accommodated at one hotel to ensure they are in a bio-secure environment.”