By Gina Cossavella

How the FNB Madibaz rugby team have fared in Varsity Shield

Last year the FNB Madibaz rugby team made it to the finals with an undefeated record, losing their only match of the season to Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in the finals.

Prior to the start of this season, FNB Madibaz planned on making up for last year. Thus far, they have played four matches and have won three. A promising start but one that doesn’t leave room for anymore error, especially if they plan on being promoted back to the Varsity Cup tournament. For our PE boys to get promoted back to the Varsity Cup championship, they need to be the team that accumulates the highest points from both last year and this season.

The first two matches of this season were played on home ground and FNB Madibaz won the first match 25 – 5 against FNB UKZN on 14 February. The hiccup came on 21 February as they lost against FNB WSU 14 – 19. The boys came back with a bang on 28 February to beat FNB Rhodes 0 – 50 in Grahamstown and on 6 March, FNB Madibaz got back at FNB CPUT by beating them 32 – 24.

FNB Madibaz will be travelling to take on FNB TUT 20 March at 19:00 and will be playing their last round-robin match on home ground at 17:00 on 27 March as they take on FNB UFH who beat them earlier in the season.

Keep your eyes on the television and cheer Madibaz on in person to see how they fare in their last two matches, whether they make the final and ultimately get promoted.

Words: 265

CAPTION: FNB Madibaz centre Johan Lombard goes on a run against Rhodes on 28 February 2020. Photo: ASEM Engage

Madibaz chess star set for World Olympiad

Nelson Mandela University student Charlize van Zyl continues to make her mark in the chess world, having been chosen to compete in the World Olympiad in Russia later this year.

The 20-year-old, who is in the third year of a BA media, communications and culture degree, was named in the South African team after an eye-catching performance in the national women’s Closed Championship in December.

“I was placed joint third in that tournament, which consisted of 12 of the country’s strongest female players,” said Van Zyl. “We competed in a round-robin format, meaning that we all played against each other.

“Funnily enough, I beat both the women who came first and second. It was because of these results that I was chosen for the Olympiad team.”

She said it was always her goal to make the Olympiad team as a young player and being selected for the national team for a second time was an extremely proud moment.

“It [the Olympiad] is a highly prestigious tournament and, by extension, it is an accolade to have made the team,” said Van Zyl. “I worked very hard to get there.

“The first time I made the team was in 2018 when it was held in Georgia.”

She added that the World Chess Olympiad was one of the most prestigious chess tournaments in the world, taking place every two years.

“Countries from all over send their best male and female teams, consisting of five players each, so the top players in the world will be there.”

This is the 44th Chess Olympiad and it will be held in Moscow from
August 5 to 18.

The former Erica Primary and Collegiate High pupil said she learnt the game from her father at the age of seven and it had become her passion.

“When I was eight I began to play competitively and I have taken part in many tournaments nationally and internationally since then.

“In 2013, at the age of 13, I attained the Woman International Master title, becoming the youngest South African ever to do so.”

Chess, she added, was a big part of her life.

“It is a massive passion for me. Apart from playing I am also an accredited chess coach, coaching at schools as well as privately.

“I believe that chess has had an incredible influence on me as a person, to the extent that it is part of who I am.”

CAPTION: Madibaz chess player Charlize van Zyl has been chosen to represent South Africa at the World Olympiad in Moscow, Russia, in August. Photo: Anathi Dzanibe


Madibaz netball event extended to three days

Nelson Mandela University will host its biggest netball club competition yet this weekend when the SPAR Madibaz Tournament takes place over three days for the first time.

Seen as the opening event of the Eastern Province season, the university club will host at least 80 teams from Friday to Sunday as the popularity of the tournament continues to soar.

Madibaz Sport netball manager Melinda Goosen said she was amazed each year at the remarkable interest in the event.

“This tournament has grown exponentially over the past five years from a one-day event to a three-day tournament for the first time this year,” she said.

“Last year we accommodated a record number of 80 team entries and this year we are expecting the same, if not a few more.

“We have already received entries from as far afield as Gauteng, as well as teams from the Western Cape.

“Over the past five years the tournament has gone from 48 teams to a record number of 80 entries last year. This is the biggest club tournament in the country.”

The tournament, Goosen said, was initiated in the days when Mandela University was still split into UPE and Technikon.

“Both institutions had special netball tournaments in the Drieka Nortje Memorial [Technikon] and the Irma du Preez Memorial [UPE].

“When we became NMMU [Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University] it changed to one tournament and was just called the NMMU Memorial tournament in respect for the ladies mentioned above.

“Over the years, this has evolved into the SPAR Madibaz Netball Tournament, starting on Saturday morning and ending that evening. Now we have to extend it to three days.

“It has always been a tournament that takes place early in the netball season and for the past seven years it has been seen as the opening-of-the-season tournament in Nelson Mandela Bay’s netball calendar.”

Goosen said they received entries mainly from Eastern Cape and Western Cape clubs, but for the first time this year Gauteng clubs had shown an interest.

“It is a senior club tournament, but we do allow for U16 and U18 school teams, who will be slotted into appropriate sections.”

A total of five sections will contest the women’s competition, while provision is also made for a men’s division.

Goosen said the tournament was perfectly positioned to provide insight into the various clubs’ player resources for the season.

“Coaches love to enter this tournament due to the number of teams they can enter, giving them a chance to assess their players against some of the best clubs around.

“Having a sponsor such as SPAR assists the Madibaz club in making this tournament such a success.

“To be able to bring a special vibe to the greater netball community in Eastern Cape is an awesome feeling.  Every year I am amazed at the atmosphere and how the players enjoy being part of this.

“It’s not just about the netball, but in essence the friendships that are made and the new people that you meet.”


Madibaz aim to bounce back against Rhodes

The FNB Madibaz rugby team are determined to regain their intensity after they went off the boil to suffer a Varsity Shield defeat against Walter Sisulu University in Port Elizabeth last Friday.

The 19-14 result was the Nelson Mandela University side’s first loss in the round-robin phase of the competition and coach Jarryd Buys said they wanted to bounce back against Rhodes in Grahamstown this week.

Friday’s fixture will renew an old rivalry between the Eastern Province-based varsities and Buys said they needed to rediscover their best form against the home team.

“We have spoken about the other teams lifting their games against us, but only until you see it actually happening do you realise that it’s the best way to learn what we are facing,” he said of the Walter Sisulu result.

“In terms of the individuals and the team that will be a massive wake-up call and it’s another warning that you can’t take anything for granted.

“There are other teams out there who want it just as badly as we do.”

Buys said there was no need to panic, but he acknowledged that they had to rectify what went wrong on Friday.

“We can’t just coast along and think the wins are going to keep happening.

“But the attitudes are right and we had a good training session on Monday. It’s been a tough couple of days but the guys have to take it on the chin and it’s often in adversity that a person’s character is shown.

“The way we played on Friday we need to put in a mammoth performance this week.

“It needs to be physical, it needs to be ruthless and it needs to be a case of showing ourselves that what happened on Friday was a once-off.”

He admitted they lacked the proper intensity against Walter Sisulu.

“Losing last year’s final [to Cape Peninsula University of Technology] was one thing because we actually played decent rugby and fell off in the last few minutes.

“But Friday’s result was tough to take. We were flat and very unhappy with how things went and the performance we put in.

“The way it went in the first game [against UKZN] the players perhaps took it for granted that the same intensity was going to be there against Walter Sisulu.

“Each guy was looking around expecting it from the other guy and not doing it himself.

“But now we have to get back up and move onto the next job – and that is our priority in Grahamstown on Friday.”

CAPTION: FNB Madibaz player Kyle Cyster prepares to set off on a run in their Varsity Shield rugby match against Walter Sisulu University at Madibaz Stadium in Port Elizabeth last Friday. Photo: Michael Sheehan


Physical challenge looms for Madibaz rugby team

Captain Luvo Claassen’s FNB Madibaz rugby team are gearing up for an extreme physical challenge when they tackle provincial rivals Walter Sisulu University in the Varsity Shield in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

The match is the second part of an Eastern Cape university double-header at the Madibaz Stadium, with Rhodes kicking off proceedings against Fort Hare at 5pm.

This will be followed by the clash between of two of the competition’s heavyweights at 7pm.

Both the Nelson Mandela University outfit and Walter Sisulu are coming off opening-round victories and the scene is set for an explosive showdown.

Claassen, the Player that Rocks in their win against KwaZulu-Natal last Friday, said they were delighted to pick up five points in that match but they realised there was still a long way to go.

“We know that Walter Sisulu are a very physical side and we will have to front up for that,” he said.

“It’s probably going to be one of the most physical games of the season and we are going to have to work very hard throughout the match.

“But our plan is always to focus on the things that we do well and to make sure we execute everything accurately.”

Having ended top of the log last season, the Madibaz skipper said he knew they would have a target on their backs this year.

“It will be a big test, but the guys are ready to take that on,” he added.

“We all know that a promotion spot is up for grabs, so that adds some spice to the competition this year.

“But we are prepared to embrace that challenge and we know we have to keep working hard.”

Claassen said he was pleased with their performance last week, especially as it was their opening game.

“We were very happy with the result and the defence was good – we were able to put pressure in the right areas and were delighted to come away with the win.”

Personally he felt he had “a bit of a shaky start” but improved as the game went on.

“Although I received the award, it was all due to the team effort. It was a well-balanced display and the guys worked hard to play in the right areas.

“Our kicking game was accurate and we managed the game very well.”

Madibaz Sport rugby manager Ntsikelelo Ngcakana said they were thrilled with the support they received last week and were anticipating another full stadium this Friday.

“I personally think moving the games to Friday was a great move and we couldn’t have asked for anything better from our supporters,” he said.

“This week will be huge for Nelson Mandela University and Eastern Cape rugby and we can’t wait to put on a great show.”

He said the team’s mandate was to “treat every game like a final”.

“We want to execute any opportunity that arises to make sure we get all the points we can. KZN pushed us hard and we will take that win and now focus on the next task ahead of us.”

CAPTION: FNB Madibaz captain Luvo Claassen is interviewed after winning the Player that Rocks award in the Varsity Shield rugby match against University of KwaZulu-Natal at the Madibaz Stadium last Friday. Photo: Michael Sheehan

Madibaz coach banking on squad’s depth in Varsity Shield

Building depth in his squad has been uppermost in coach Jarryd Buys’s mind as FNB Madibaz prepare for their opening Varsity Shield rugby match against University of KwaZulu-Natal in Port Elizabeth tomorrow.

The encounter is a repeat of last year’s semifinal at the same venue and will kick off at the Madibaz Stadium at 7pm.

Buys said their approach to the season was based on the fact that the team with most log points over 2019 and 2020 would be promoted to the Varsity Cup next year.

“It was important for us to get those 30 log points last year, knowing that if we finish on top of the log again, irrespective of the number of points, it will be enough to get us back into the Varsity Cup,” he said.

“So our plan from last season was to build depth and competition among the group so that as you get to the latter stages if you have injuries you have the players who can come on as good replacements and do a solid job.

“I believe we have accomplished that. We’ve got a very strong squad and we could field two teams of 15 which could do a good job. It’s very important to have that depth available.”

The Madibaz mentor is equally pleased with the format of the competition, with matches being played on Friday nights and limited to one a week.

“Last year there was a very hectic start to the tournament when we played four games in two weeks. So compared to that, this year is way better.

“We have four games and then a bye, followed by the last two round-robin matches.

“That really helps in terms of player management, but we know we have to just take it game by game.”

He said they had two home games and the aim would be to build up some momentum for the two away fixtures which followed.

While Buys did not feel playing on a Friday would change their strategy in any way, he backed the decision to move games to a weekend night.

“They want to try to get more students to the games and I think that will work. Friday and Saturday are your traditional rugby days and I think the atmosphere will be really good on Friday.”

As they enter a new season, Buys is banking on the meticulous preparation they have put in to make the right sort of start.

“I am very happy with the build-up we’ve had,” he said. “The guys are in great condition and in terms of what we’ve covered and how we’ve improved, everything is on track.

“There were some warm-up games which gave us valuable feedback and after months of hard work we are pretty excited to get started on Friday.

“We know that no team can be taken lightly and as we enter a new phase we will be concentrating on what we can do and try to execute that well to get the upper hand.”

The Madibaz fixtures are:

Feb 14: v UKZN in PE;  Feb 21: v Walter Sisulu in PE; Feb 28: v Rhodes in Grahamstown; Mar 6: v Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town; Mar 20: v Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria; Mar 27: v Fort Hare in PE


Madibaz retain EP women’s squash title

The Madibaz women’s squash team continued their dominance of the Eastern Province first league when they retained the title last month.

Last year the Nelson Mandela University outfit won the league for the first time since 2002, edging Crusaders by two points in the final standings.

This time it was a more conclusive result. Going into their last match against Londt Park needing just one point to remain champions, they finished 12 points ahead of their closest rivals.

Captain Bianca Brown, a senior player in the team, attributed their success to the focus they placed on preparations for the University Sport South Africa squash week.

“Obviously as we had the same team from last year we were fairly confident of doing well again in the league,” she said.

“But I think what really helped us was the hard work we put in ahead of the USSA week, which took place in early July. The spin-off of that is that we were able to compete really well in the league once again.”

Considering the lengthy gap between last year’s triumph and their previous success in 2002, Brown said it was encouraging to win it again.

“Yes it was really nice to back up last year’s win with another league title, which ensures that Madibaz squash remains in the spotlight,” she said. “It was good to show that we could still dominate the competition.”

The league success came after another good week in the USSA competition in July when Madibaz ended runners-up to the University of Johannesburg.

Brown, Hayley Ward and Dani Shone made up the USSA Best of the Rest team, while Ward was the women’s individual runner-up. The team came second in the women’s category.

Mikayla Boy, who along with Anli Thiel completed the women’s first league squad this year, was the USSA B section individual winner.

Looking ahead to 2020, Brown said they were hopeful of remaining competitive in the league and USSA.

“We have had the good depth for a couple of years, although I am not quite sure of my position at this stage for next year.

“But the rest of the squad will be available again and if there is a chance of picking up one or two first-years then I am sure we will still be a competitive team.”

Intervarsity a celebration of student activities

The Eastern Cape’s universities will gather for a celebration of student activities when the annual intervarsity takes place at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth on Friday and Saturday.

While the sporting fixtures will be a big attraction, Madibaz Director of Sport Yoliswa Lumka said the occasion lent itself to a wider programme of events, which they were excited about hosting this year.

Starting in 2017, she said the institutions – Nelson Mandela University, Rhodes, Fort Hare and Walter Sisulu – had discussed the pathway for the annual intervarsity.

“We crafted a document to showcase the purpose of intervarsity, as well as the inclusion of other events that will involve a lot more students of the four institutions,” said Lumka.

“For instance, this year a fashion show, a flash mob and a Women’s Day mentoring programme have been included.”

She added that it was a once-a-year opportunity for the students to participate in as many activities as they could and to enjoy themselves.

“My message to both Madibaz students and our visitors is the same – go out and support your teams, enjoy all the activities on offer and see as much of our beautiful campus as you can.”

Lumka felt the intervarsity played a critical role in maintaining important links between the institutions.

“There is only one opportunity where all four institutions in the Eastern Cape can interact with each other,” she said.

“It is crucial that the bonds and links between the students and staff of the institutions are strengthened on an annual basis.”

Significantly, Madibaz Sport will be hosting several other visitors this weekend.

“We have a number of guests from other institutions around the country who will be joining us to observe the programme on Friday and Saturday, so we are definitely doing something right,” said Lumka.

“The Eastern Cape is the longest-running intervarsity in the country and it inspires varsities in other provinces to try to establish similar occasions.”

Starting at 11.30 on Friday morning with the golf competition at Humewood, a total of 19 sports and activities will take place, culminating in the intervarsity prize-giving at the Madibaz Stadium on Saturday at 6 pm.

There will be a programme of high-quality sport at the stadium on Saturday, beginning with the women’s soccer final at noon.

This will be followed by the rugby clash between Fort Hare and Rhodes at 1.30pm and the men’s soccer final at 3 pm. The sporting action will end with the rugby match between Madibaz and Walter Sisulu at 4.30pm.

In sports where at least three institutions have entered, points will be allocated which will count towards the total for the overall intervarsity trophy.

The activities for Saturday, however, kick-off at 8 am at the South Campus (Building 6) with the institutions debating various trending topics related to the student environment.

There will also be a moot court set up from 9 am in the Law Faculty on South Campus where law students from the various institutions will engage in oral arguments.

Sporting graduates emerge with distinction

Cloudius Sagandira says combining an academic vocation with a sporting career is the best thing that could have happened to him while at Nelson Mandela University.

The Madibaz football star, a former captain of the club, has recently graduated with a doctorate in chemistry, but will look back on his varsity days with extreme gratitude for the opportunities he received.

He is one of 70 Madibaz Sport graduates who obtained their qualifications at the university’s graduation ceremonies in December and April after excelling on and off the field.

Among other high-profile student-athletes who graduated were ace swimming twins Alard and Alaric Basson and athletics star Ischke Senekal, all of whom have represented South Africa.

Sagandira said he embraced the challenges he faced in the lecture halls and on the sports fields, adding in a message to aspiring students that it was all about hard work.

“In terms of first-years it is about setting your goals and getting your priorities right,” he said.

“With the right sort of determination, hard work, passion, commitment, self-discipline and, above all, God’s grace, anything is achievable.

“And you should never settle for less.”

He said the latter comment was the best piece of advice he received at varsity, while he also tried to keep things in perspective.

“Whenever I achieve something really good, I always remember that I am not the first or the last to do it, and someone, somewhere has done it even better.

“I always want to find ways to improve, always be hungry and let humility lead the way as I follow.”

The demanding work he put in during his extensive laboratory research was balanced by the release he received on the training ground.

“After a heavy day indoors I used to refresh at soccer training in the evening,” said Sagandira.

“That was a very important routine for me to keep myself fresh and energised.

“Besides that, football really helped build my character, determination, competitiveness and discipline, as well as a sense of responsibility. It brought out the best in me.”

Sagandira said it was impossible to pay tribute to all the individuals who guided him through his varsity life.

“All I can say is that I got all the necessary support I needed where possible to be where am I am today and I am so grateful to NMU.

“This might sound like everything was given to me on a silver platter but, trust me, it was all through sweat and tears and I am glad it paid off.

“Most importantly, getting the opportunity to study and play soccer at Mandela University was the best thing to have happened to me. The academic and sporting environments were conducive to the pursuit of excellence in both fields.”

Shot put and discus exponent Senekal has qualified with an honours degree in education and said her varsity career combined her love for children and her passion for sport.

“Neither was more important than the other so I decided I would do both to the best of my abilities even if it meant less sleep for me,” said the Uitenhage-based athlete.

She added that her mantra was to “believe you can achieve”.

“My message to aspiring sports stars is to always test your limits and strive to make your weaknesses your strengths.

“Keep on believing that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.”

Senekal said the support she received from the university structures had been crucial during her time there.

“The education department allowed me time off to pursue my sporting career in the knowledge that it would be my responsibility to catch up with any work missed.

“Similarly, Madibaz Sport was understanding in allowing me off some evening events to catch up on my academic commitments, so that was very important in helping me achieve my objectives.”

The Basson swimming twins, who are doing postgraduate degrees in construction management, said finding a balance between work and play was essential to succeeding at university.

“My advice to first-years is to take time ‘not just to plant the mind but to also water the mind’,” said Alard.

“As a student it’s so easy to get yourself caught up in study stress and pressures that you forget to take a breath or a mental break.

“Taking time out to relax, and feeding your mind positive thoughts before taking on the next task, is crucial.

“As a sportsman you cannot do what the rest are doing, so associate yourself with students with a similar drive.

“The best advice I got was to enjoy the journey as far as possible instead of just focusing on the destination.”

Alaric said a focus on doing well in both fields helped him to manage the challenges he faced.

“It was never possible for me to really enjoy the ‘varsity life’ to the fullest, but my desire to achieve in both kept me motivated,” he said.

“Having achieved both in my sport and academically over the past few years has been rewarding and all the sacrifices have paid off and still are.”

They both paid tribute to the roles played by their parents and the varsity structures.

“Besides our family support, our aquatics manager Melinda Goosen and coach Mark Edge were major role players,” they said.

“In addition, the Eastern Cape Academy of Sport played a big part in helping us achieve what we have so far, so we are grateful to all those who have supported us.”

Madibaz deputy director of sport Riaan Osman said they prided themselves on the holistic development of their student-athletes.

“We are thankful to the various departments at the university with whom we collaborate to ensure our elite student-athletes achieve success in their academics,” he said.

“Sport scholarships are available to top achievers who register for courses of their choice, subject to them meeting the desired criteria.

“We then provide the necessary support to assist them in managing their studies, especially when they out of class competing in their various disciplines.”

He said they gave the student-athletes access to online digital platforms via the University Blended Learning initiatives, plus daily monitoring of their academic progress.

“If any red flags are identified, we intervene by providing tutors for the students to ensure they will ultimately graduate in their studies,” added Osman.

“Previously if student-athletes missed a test, they needed to write a make-up test, based on more work than the rest of the class were tested on.

“In essence, this disadvantaged the student, but thanks to the online access to study material, including lectures, they are now able to pursue their studies in conjunction with achieving success in their specific sporting disciplines.”


Rowing is a sport that consists of rowers propelling a boat forward by means of oars. It can be a team sport or an individual sport and uses the full body. Within rowing, there are some interesting sayings and phrases. Below are some of the most important terms associated with rowing and some interesting words, like coxswain, ergometer, rigger and starboard. 

Firstly, the directions on a boat: The front of the boat is called the bow and the rower sitting closest to the bow will cross the line first. The left side of the boat is called the port, the right side is called the starboard and the back of the boat is called the stern.  

To propel the boat forward, oars are dipped into the water and the water displaced drives the boat. The cadence of the boat for all to follow is set by the stroke, who is the rower located nearest to the stern. There is an “on-the-water” coach called the coxswain (or cox), who also steers.  

In rowing, there is a feeling (called swing) that is difficult to define, but one that rowers appreciate because the effect can result in improved speed and performance. Sometimes, when there is no swing, another method is needed to get ahead of the competition. One such technique that can be employed is called the Power 10, whereby the rowers pull ten of their best strokes in the hopes of a win.  

Nelson Mandela University has an active rowing team that, while competitive, also has social aspects. Rowing is a wonderful opportunity to get outdoors, get some exercise, develop skills and have a good time.