A quartet of SPAR Madibaz netball players were named in the national tertiary squad following eye-catching performances at the University Sports South Africa tournament recently.
Britney van der Merwe was drafted for her defensive skills (wing and goal defence), Mothira Mohammad and Hanniska van Vuuren for their value when going forward (goal and wing attack) and Juanita van Tonder for her fortification talents (goal defence and goalkeeper).
The USSA team traditionally compete in the Cucsa (Confederation of Universities and College Sports Association) Games, although a date for the next tournament is yet to be confirmed.
Van der Merwe, 22, said her inclusion was “such an honour”.
“I see this as the fruit of many years of hard work and dedication. I could not be more grateful to those who see something in me and believe in my abilities.”
Her nod for the South African squad comes after her third USSA week and therefore it will be her first trip to the Cucsa Games.
“Whatever the challenge, my personal goal is always to play high-quality netball that shows respect for my opponent.”
She attributes much of her success to the Madibaz coaching team.
“They have been awesome and have built me up and prepared me more than I ever thought possible.”
The student-athlete believes the secret to her success is tapping into her coaches’ experience and applying their wisdom to her advantage on the court.
“They have given me so much confidence in my ability,” she said.
Van Vuuren’s selection follows her second tilt at the USSAs and the 19-year-old is looking forward to the impact of the international experience on her game.
She went all in to impress the selectors and, now that she has caught their eye, wants to focus on upping her game while also developing as a team player.
Part of this process, she explained, was to remain focused and resuming her physical preparation where she had left off prior to the USSA event.
Following her debut in 2021, it will be Mohammad’s second trip to the Games and the opportunity never gets old.
The recognition comes after months of hard work and the Madibaz captain was beaming at the news.
“It’s a privilege to be part of such a talented squad. It provides motivation to maintain a high level.”
Now it was just a case of remaining calm while challenging herself to work even harder than the day before, Mohammad said.
Van Tonder’s parents were by her side in Stellenbosch when the names of the national squad were read out.
“I was overwhelmed when I heard my name being called,” the 21-year-old remembered. “Having my parents there was . . . such a great feeling.”
It was amazing to be included in a squad packed with talented players, she said.