The volleyball season for the University of Fort Hare teams will ramp up on Saturday when the opening District League games are played at the Alice campus.
What started out some years ago as a league to introduce the sport to rural communities in the region had over time become a highly competitive event, explained Fort Hare team manager Hope Fata.
Now the Fort Hare teams, represented by two men’s and two women’s teams, face tough tests against their local rivals as they get their teeth into the 2023 season.
“The idea was to create exposure for the sport by using this day to introduce volleyball to high-school children as well as the various communities,” said Fata.
As the sport became more established across the Amathole district, the matches became more competitive.
“These matches have risen to another level as the players’ games developed. This is a big boost for Fort Hare volleyball because it helps our students prepare for other competitions.”
She said the university’s teams would naturally be the sides to beat as they aimed to maintain the high standards they had set in various tournaments in recent times.
Volleyball is gaining an ever-increasing amount of exposure among Fort Hare students as the institution hosts and participates in tournaments, which lead to large numbers of players signing up every year.
Besides the District League games, the UFH Sixers compete in several indoor and beach volleyball competitions in the Buffalo City area as well as the prestigious University Sport South Africa (USSA) events.
“We have done well over the years and have produced several players for the provincial team that take part in the national volleyball league,” said Fata.
“Last year eight of our players were selected for the provincial squad, as well as myself as team manager.”
In 2022, the UFH Sixers were named the team of the tournament at the USSA indoor volleyball champs.
Besides making a statement on the court, they also like to make one off of it. In this regard the Play It Safe tournament, hosted in collaboration with the varsity’s HIV/Aids unit, is important.
According to Fata, it was aimed at creating awareness and encouraging people to get tested regularly so that they could know their status. It also preaches the principles of healthy living, staying safe and remaining united.