University of Fort Hare dancesport coach Thandisizwe Matyumza has a reputation for being a cool customer but not even he could contain his excitement after the weekend’s Eastern Cape championships.
It is not just the fact that three of his dancers have been selected for the provincial team for the nationals in North West next month, nor is it that the team have won five gold medals in Mthatha.
What pleases him no end is that several of the youngsters notched up their first-ever victories and, what’s more, some of them are from Fort Hare’s new East London division.
Eight teams representing five provincial districts were in action at the weekend, including familiar opponents such as Rhodes University and the Walter Sisulu University campuses.
Thandeka Mhlanga and Phumelela Mqalo achieved a first position in the Standard Level 4 event while Sisanda Mrubata took the laurels in the Latin Singles.
From the East London campus, Mihlali Bali and Phiwe Cele clinched first places in both the Standard Level 1 and Latin Level 1 categories.
The experienced dance pair of Wanzi Maxhobi and Lorenzo Swartbooi placed first in the Standard Professional section.
“We are used to seniors like Wanzi winning but for Sisanda to perform so well really surprised me, especially since they only started last year,” an ecstatic Matyumza said.
“They are still going to be with us for a few years so it will really motivate them.”
With the coach only introducing the code in East London two months ago, he could never have imagined that those students would perform so well so quickly.
To top it all, another Buffalo City student, Bubuhle Mshweshwe, placed a credible third in the Latin Singles.
“I am very excited about what they have achieved, especially since I have not always been able to attend practices,” the coach said.
“I have been very fortunate to be able to call on a private student of mine, Thabo Kobokana, who has been running the practice sessions. A lot of the credit must go to him.”
While the season is over for most of the team, training will only intensify for Maxhobi, Mqalo and Mhlanga ahead of their participation at the nationals from October 7 to 8.
They form part of an Eastern Cape team comprising 11 couples, funded by the department of sport, recreation, arts and culture as well as the province’s sports confederation.
Matyumza confirmed that he would be travelling to North West to support his charges.
“I must admit that I’m tired, but there’s no time to rest yet.
“The nationals are only two weeks away, so these three are going to suffer this week,” he quipped.