SPORT at NMMU took a major step forward when the varsity unveiled a R5-million extension to its fitness and aquatics centre this week.
University officials believe the project to improve their facilities will be a major boost for an institution making its mark on varsity sport in the country.
Last year the NMMU cricket team won the University Sport SA (USSA) week and early this year the Madibaz rugby team reached the Varsity Cup semifinals, being shaded in the penultimate round by Stellenbosch.
In addition the Madibaz soccer and netball teams ended second and third in their Varsity Sport competitions.
The status of NMMU sport was emphasised by Bestmed sales, marketing and distribution executive head Alan Fritz, whose company was a major sponsor of the renovations, when he said NMMU was developing into one of the most highly rated varsities in the country.
“That is not just me speaking,” Fritz said. “People in the north have told me that, as well as people in the Western Cape.”
The extensions have added about 600m² of additional floor space and created better changeroom facilities, including for members with disabilities.
There have also been additions to the cardiovascular and strength and conditioning equipment.
NMMU sports director Richard Stretch said the extensions would be of major benefit to students and staff. “It’s amazing how things have changed since I joined here 18 years ago,” he said.
“At that stage there was just a small area for a weights room on the other side of the indoor arena, which often could not be used because of exams.
“The swimming pool just had a bubble over it which often had to be taken down if the wind was too strong.
“Now we have a state-of-the-art facility. We will look at even more developments in the future.”
Stretch paid tribute to NMMU vice- chancellor Derrick Swartz for his support and contribution in making the project possible.
Swartz said the university was proud of the investment and would look to replicate the facility at its other campuses. He stressed the importance of a healthy body as well as a healthy mind.
“We have spent R5-million to create a facility for lifestyle and health management, which is crucial to our campus,” Swartz said. “It is important to develop in a holistic sense and, for reasons I cannot explain, this is not always happening in our schools and that leads to stunted development.
“We want our students to be stimulated by the experience. We want to encourage more people to use the facilities.”
At the launch a change to the name of the sports department was announced, with the NMMU Bureau of Sport now to be known as Madibaz Sport.
This change is based on the success, expansion, recognition and use of the Madibaz Sport brand in the sporting environment.