The University of Fort Hare’s dancers found their rhythm and the podium at the Federation of Dance Sport South Africa’s Champions League 1 contest in Durban last weekend.
A complement of six couples, dressed to the nines, returned from the Pinetown Civic Centre with three first, one second and two third places in the Amateur and Champions League categories.
A proud head coach, Thandisizwe Matyumza, said their achievements were just the latest in a string of successes at provincial and national level.
Last year four couples were selected for the Eastern Cape team who competed at the nationals and they all returned with podiums.
According to Matyumza, the most memorable achievement of 2022 was when two duos – Aphelele Bhodlisi and Lindokuhle Sibindlana and Lorenzo Swartbooi and Wanzi Maxhobi – were promoted to the Champions League for the 2024 world championships qualifying events.
“Dancers must compete in at least three Champions League competitions with the top two couples on the log winning the right to represent the country,” he explained.
Having been established in the nineties, the sport is one of the oldest at the tertiary institution. It gained recognition as a competitive code in 2007.
Club members have excelled in the provincial and national championships over the years. In addition, the club returned with the winners’ trophy from the Queen Cup in Lesotho in 2017 and 2018.
The team were awarded a certificate for consistency at the UFH Sports Awards in 2018 and the sport was recognised as one of the eight priority codes the following year.
Matyumza said the sport had grown in popularity, so much so that students at the East London campus lobbied for a team to be established there.
The club boasts 32 members at the Alice campus and 30 newbies have already signed up for the first classes in East London later this month.
The club has also made an impact on student life.
“We hosted a very successful event called Dancing with the UFH Sports Stars where we invited leading players from each code to take part,” said Matyumza.
“It served to bring unity among all codes and to show what dancesport is all about.”
Twenty-eight athletes took part with the top three places going to karate, cricket and tennis.
Club members are also making an impact on administrative level. Thandeka Mhlanga is assistant secretary of the Federation of Dancesport EC while Matyumza serves as assistant secretary of the EC Sports Confederation.
Results from the Durban event:
Amateur League: Sikhulule Bukani and Esethu Bangani (1st: Level 3 ballroom), Phumelela Mqalo and Thandeka Mhlanga (3rd: Level 3 ballroom), Lubabalo Xabanisa and Nontando Tsheleza (1st: Rising stars ballroom) and Inga Mtana and Zukhanye Lupuwana (3rd: Rising stars ballroom)
Champions League: Aphelele Bhodlisi and Lindokuhle Sibindlana (2nd: Championship ballroom) and Lorenzo Swartbooi and Wanzi Maxhobi (1st: Professional ballroom).