NMMU to host opening leg of netball series

NELSON Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) has been selected to host the three- day opening leg of the inaugural Varsity Netball series, which starts in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The series, which draws its inspiration from the popular Varsity Cup Rugby, will see eight tertiary institutions competing in a made-for-television format.

NMMU journalism student Dumisane Chauke will captain the Spar-Madibaz side as they take on the University of Johannesburg (UJ), University of Cape Town (UCT) and Stellenbosch University (Maties) in the initial round-robin competition.

Chauke, who was named goal shooter of the tournament at the South African senior championship last month, will lead a strong attack alongside former Protea centre Mampho Tsotetsi.

The home team will also present a solid defence, spearheaded by master's student and goalkeeper Zanele Vimbela. She was part of the national squad that took silver at the World University Netball Championship in Cape Town last year.

According to Madibaz netball manager Theresa le Roux, spectators can look forward to quality performances as the universities' senior national players will be available for most of the six-week series.

She said the home team expected strong competition from the likes of UJ and Maties on the opening weekend.

Le Roux said one of the highlights would be the introduction of the two-minute power play.

"Each team gets a chance to call a random power play and any goals scored during that time will count two points instead of one."

Aside from some exciting netball, she said audiences could also look forward to a festive atmosphere, with lots of crowd participation and sponsored giveaways during the breaks.

Le Roux said the action would take place at the Missionvale campus on Saturday and Sunday, with matches starting at 2pm and 3.30pm.

The teams then move to the university's south campus for the live TV broadcast on Monday night, where UJ will take on Maties in the first game at 6pm and NMMU will face off against UCT at 7.30pm.

The University of Pretoria hosts Tshwane University of Technology, North-West University and the University of the Free State over the weekend.

Le Roux said NMMU would also host two televised play-offs on September 30 and October 14.

Varsity Netball, which is a Varsity Sports initiative, follows the successful introduction of the concept in other sporting codes like football, athletics, hockey, volleyball and rugby sevens.

Entry will be free.