UFH - Netball - SAUSSA

With the 22nd SAUSSA Games about to get underway, Vice-Chancellor Sakhela Buhlungu is probably spending the weekend making room in the University of Fort Hare’s trophy cabinet.

That is if he has taken heed of the heads-up given to him by Fort Hare’s uber confident team manager.

“We promised the VC we’ll come back with cups,” Ngcali Mathimba-Peter said ahead of their departure to Mahikeng this (Saturday) evening.

The South African Universities Staff Sports Association Games for the country’s tertiary employees have been a happy hunting ground for the staff at UFH’s three campuses in the Eastern Cape.

In 2021 they won both the football and netball.

And, having triumphed in these codes at the USSA staff tournament in Cape Town in October, they believe the silverware is theirs for the taking.

Around 120 of Fort Hare’s fittest employees are travelling to North-West University, where they will also compete in volleyball, table tennis, darts, pool and tug-o-war until Saturday.

In addition to leaving it all out there on the sports field, staff from the 20 competing universities will also learn about designated charity projects and attend talks based on the theme “Sport and Recreation in Psycho-Social Wellbeing” by a variety of keynote speakers.

UFH - Netball - SAUSSA

University of Fort Hare’s staff netball team are perennial favourites at any tournament and they will again carry the university’s hopes at this year’s SAUSSAs in North West. Photo: Full Stop Communications

The Fort Hare ensemble had been looking forward to the SAUSSA Games as it offered an outlet to unwind outside of the work and home environments, Mathimba-Peter said.

Hence, sport has become a crucial part of the university’s wellness programme.

Another benefit is that it establishes camaraderie among the workforce.

Staff make time to practise after work during the week and compete in smaller tournaments on weekends.

Mathimba-Peter said they showed their commitment by testing themselves against teams from the government departments of public works and education, both of which often came up short against her charges.

Given their victories at the staff USSAs – only the second time the high-profile competition had been extended to faculty members – confidence was especially high in the football and netball camps.

UFH’s volleyballers will also have their hopes up after ending the tournament in fourth place.

The team expect stiff competition throughout but have marked the University of Limpopo, who were crowned overall champions at the staff USSAs, the most dangerous.

While student administrator Mathimba-Peter does not compete herself, she takes her role extremely seriously.

“I make it a point that everything is in order,” she quipped.

Rebecca Mheta, general secretary of the NWU Staff Club, said it was an honour for the institution to host the Games as it brought universities together for a common purpose.