UFH - Dancesport - Thandisizwe Matyumza

Dancesport comes into full focus at Fort Hare when the institution’s athletes are tested at the Amathole Championships this weekend.

The class of 2024 are one of the biggest yet after some 40 dancers signed up in Alice and another 30 put their names forward in East London.

Although the contingent comprised many newcomers, coach Thandisizwe Matyumza was not concerned.

He anticipated that the club would start bursting at its seams following its recent successes and enlisted the services of an assistant to work with those he had mentored in EL since last year.

In addition, a joint practice session is held in Alice every second Saturday.

The Amathole event, which serves as one of three qualifiers for provincial selection, takes place at the Alice campus. This means that Matyumza’s rookies will make their competition debut on home turf.

Last year, Fort Hare made up almost half of the Eastern Cape team who participated at the national championships in Mahikeng.

As much as Matyumza hoped that his young charges would perform well in the qualifiers, his focus was more on identifying their strengths and weaknesses ahead of the USSAs at North-West University from June 26 to 30.

UFH - Dancesport - Thandisizwe Matyumza

Fort Hare dancesport coach Thandisizwe Matyumza is readying his charges for a busy season. Photo: Full Stop Communications

“I think we have three or four competitions before then to see where the dancers may be lacking so we can work on these aspects,” he explained.

Matyumza is also devoting much of his time to UFH’s dancers competing in the top-tier National Champions League (NCL), which serve as a qualifier for the 2025 World Professional Standard Championships.

The first competition is scheduled for Durban on April 20, with two more taking place in Cape Town and Gauteng later in the year.

Current Fort Hare student Wanzi Maxhobi and graduate Lorenzo Swartbooi booked their spot for the 2024 Worlds after placing third overall in the NCL last year.

They were the first from Fort Hare’s dancesport programme to be selected for their country and the duo will no doubt hope to do so for the second year running.

Axola Ximbi, who made it into the semifinals of the nationals in North West last October despite only being drafted into the Eastern Cape team as a late replacement, will join her colleagues in the NCL alongside another UFH star, Inga Mtana.

As such, their mentor is already putting both pairs through their paces to get them competition-ready.