Madibaz coach instils combination of academics and sport

Madibaz coach instils combination of academics and sport

Madibaz squash mentor Jason le Roux believes a sensible combination of academic focus and sporting ambition can produce graduates worthy of making an impact on society.

The 37-year-old coach, who is also a leading player, has had an influential role in Nelson Mandela University’s squash fortunes since he moved to Port Elizabeth from East London in 2011.

After studying sport science and doing his honours at Nelson Mandela University, he was on the verge of heading to Cape Town in 2015 to become the UCT squash coach.

“However, in December [2014] an opportunity opened up at the Eastern Cape Academy of Sport, where I did my internship during my honours year,” he said.

“I was fortunate to get that position after applying and am now the acting co-ordinator for the Madibaz High Performance Centre at Nelson Mandela University.”

As a player for the varsity, Le Roux took over the coaching position when former Eastern Province player Richard Driscoll decided to leave.

“At that stage Richard was happy to move on and asked me if I would mind taking over the coaching of Madibaz squash,” said Le Roux. “Since 2013 I have officially been coaching Madibaz Squash and been the chairperson for the squash club.”

Competitive by nature, Le Roux, who has done the Ironman SA race in Port Elizabeth, said his aim for the players was to always achieve the best result possible.

But he acknowledged the top priority for student-athletes at the varsity was academics.

“As a mentor to them I want them to see that squash is a sideline to their future and studies,” he said. “But that does not mean you can’t give it your all on the court.

“Once you know the time you have for it, give it everything in that time and seek enjoyment out of improving and being the best you can be.

“I want players to create memories, stories and pride in themselves about what they achieved, both individually and for the team.

“Also the balance [with studies] is essential and the networking and what you learn from competition and training and how it develops you are vital. Don’t ignore it.

“The difference between you and the next person in the job interview can be your sport achievements and bosses like to see that you are a balanced and disciplined person.”

Le Roux emphasised the enjoyment side of the game rather than putting too much pressure on oneself as a player.

“My main goal as a coach is to keep these players playing squash and to help them enjoy squash and want to improve,” he added. “From there it is coaching them to improve and how to be their best.

“The most important issue I try get across is not to quit. Try to enjoy squash and the training, or the games only if that is what you want.

“If you can find the element of fun first, then you can look to grow in the game.”

The coach said the Eastern Cape region was blessed with considerable squash talent. Madibaz have gone through several years of success under his leadership.

From 2012 to 2015 they won the men’s Super league, a title they also claimed in 2017 and this year. They won the men’s first league title from 2012 to 2017, while the women’s team have been crowned first league winners in the past two years.

“There are plenty of exciting young players, but the struggle is to keep them in the Eastern Cape and to get them to study at Nelson Mandela University,” said Le Roux.

“At the moment four of our top five men and four women achieved top 10 rankings at schools level.

“But varsity squash is different and the maturity level and disciplined training takes over, so you don’t always have the top juniors coming through.

“For example, Kyle Schwarz achieved Madibaz No 1 and made the USSA squad without being a top junior.”

As the team’s No 1 player, Le Roux said he definitely tried to “lead by example”.

“It’s the best way to influence younger students,” he said. “It is more challenging now with the addition of a new baby, but rewarding seeing people grow in their sport.

“Seeing them wanting to be the best they can be while continuing with varsity and their futures is very encouraging.”


Lockdown lessons to be learnt, says Madibaz athletics manager

Madibaz Sport athletics manager Nellis Bothma has urged student-athletes to take what positive lessons they can from the enforced lockdown period caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Like many sports codes worldwide, student and national meetings run by Varsity Athletics and Athletics South Africa have been put on hold as officials ponder the way forward when the lockdown ends.

Bothma is encouraging athletes under the Bestmed Madibaz banner to keep on preparing as best they can for when competition resumes again.

“I acknowledge it is not easy, but my message to our athletes is to never stop training,” he said.

“Our experienced coaches and their athletes can use initiatives to change their training methods according to each one’s situation and to be ready and in good shape after the lockdown.

“I believe this is an experience to learn more about yourself as a person and an athlete.

“It shows we must be prepared for anything at any time. It’s like training in difficult conditions because you never know what the situation might be when it is your moment to peak in a meeting.”

The Varsity Athletics programme was put on hold before the lockdown, but Bothma said nothing had been cancelled yet.

“No track and field events are officially cancelled as yet, not by Varsity Sport, USSA or ASA,” he confirmed. “All these championships are postponed at this stage.

“Varsity Athletics have made it clear that they will only take a decision once the lockdown period is over.”

He acknowledged that the postponement of events, including the Olympic Games, would have a severe effect on the student-athletes.

“Our Bestmed Madibaz athletes have trained hard for the 2020 national events and some had already qualified and were selected for representative teams,” added Bothma.

“For some of our top junior athletes it was the last time to earn a medal at SA junior and youth championships and also to be selected for a national junior team to represent South Africa.

“In respect of our senior athletes and final-year students it is a seriously tough situation as they might not be students next year or too old to either compete or to be selected for an age-group national team.

“This could mean not earning medals or breaking records, which can hamper their future in the sport.”

Meanwhile, leading Madibaz athletes such as long-distance runner Marianio Eesou and field athlete Ischke Senekal are, like many of their colleagues, making the best of the situation.

Eesou said he was fortunate to be spending the lockdown with his coach, Karen Zimmerman, in the rural Eastern Cape resort of Hogsback.

“We are at her mid-altitude training camp and the property is sizeable enough to maintain an intensive programme without violating lockdown protocols,” he said.

“We have cut a 1km route around the inner perimeter and are focusing on marathon training.

“In the current uncertain climate we are obviously not able to work towards any specific date or event and have thus set ourselves the goal of maintaining an optimal level of event preparedness until such time as there is more clarity.

“I would like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to Nellis Bothma, Stillwater Sports and Puma South Africa for their support during this trying time.”

Senekal, who specialises in the shot put and discus, has also adapted to the situation, using the chance to put her technique under the spotlight.

“I have my own circle at home [in Uitenhage], so I am doing my drills for shot as well as discus,” she said.

“I am focusing on the basics again, which is the most important part of the technique and will benefit me in the long run.

“My goal after lockdown is definitely to see when the SA national champs will be and then strive to do my best, as well as try to qualify for the Olympics, now in 2021.”

Madibaz await key Varsity Cup rugby decision

The FNB Madibaz rugby team will be awaiting the decision of the Varsity Cup organisers with bated breath after having a successful season halted in mid-stride by Covid-19.

The worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus and the subsequent hold on all sporting events saw the Nelson Mandela University’s Varsity Shield campaign postponed in March with two round-robin matches remaining.

Winning the title would have been important to Madibaz, but from the beginning of the season coach Jarryd Buys emphasised that their main priority was to ensure they ended on top of the combined log for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

This is because promotion to the top-flight Varsity Cup does not depend on who wins the Shield title, but which team have the most log points over the two seasons.

Despite losing to Walter Sisulu University in February, Madibaz were in a strong position when the competition was suspended.

Their last win before the postponement came against Cape Peninsula University of Technology [32-24] and it proved to be a critical result.

That outcome placed them on an accumulated overall total of 46 points, six ahead of second-placed CPUT, who have one match left.

Even if CPUT had won their last match with a bonus point [5 points], and Madibaz had lost their final two, it would have given the Western Cape side 45 points, still a point behind their Port Elizabeth rivals on the final combined log.

However, Madibaz Sport rugby manager Ntsikelelo Ngcakana said they were not taking anything for granted.

“The current situation is something that we have to treat with sensitivity and we fully support the direction taken by Varsity Cup,” he said. “They will give us the green light once things settle down.

“I don’t believe the competition will be cancelled and there will be a resolution on the table to decide the way forward.”

In respect of the players, Ngcakana felt they could use the break to their advantage.

“In one way, it could actually be a blessing in disguise as it will allow the players to catch up with their academic commitments,” he said.

“Our message to the players is to stay fit, use the time wisely to focus on your studies, enjoy the time with your families and keep safe.

“I know our players are mature enough to know what is at stake. However, the strength and conditioning coach has sent out an individualised programme to each player and a monitoring system is in place to make sure they all adhere to the requirements.”

Ngcakana also sent a message to NMU prospective students , “All Grade 12 rugby players are encouraged to work hard on their academics and apply at Nelson Mandela University in order to be part of our journey to the greater heights,” he said.

“It is important to apply in time and anyone interested can send their contact details to”


CAPTION: FNB Madibaz player Merlynn Pieterse goes on a run during their Varsity Shield match against Rhodes in Grahamstown earlier this year. Photo: ASEM Engage

Challenging period for Madibaz student-athletes

The South African student sporting calendar has fallen into disarray due to the coronavirus outbreak and the 21-day lockdown, but Madibaz director of sport Yoliswa Lumka says they are doing all they can to handle the situation positively.

Lumka said it was a trying time for everyone, but that they understood the seriousness of the situation and were sensitive to complying with the university and government regulations. The lockdown is due to end on April 16th.

One of the biggest impacts caused by Covid-19, she added, was the postponement of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The dates have been moved by 12 months and they will now take place from July 23 to August 8 next year.

 “The new dates for the Olympics and Paralympics could affect the World Student Games in 2021 as they come soon after the Tokyo Games. FISU recently updated the World Student Games dates to August 18-29 next year.

“There is a possibility that some events will not be able to take place and that unfortunately will affect student-athletes who are finishing their studies this year. They will not be able to participate if events are moved to next year.”

Lumka added that various events were under discussion as to the viability of them taking place this year.

“When institutions re-open, priority will be to stabilise and catch-up on the academic programmes,” she said.

“There are ongoing talks about the CUCSA (Confederation of University and Colleges Sports Associations) games scheduled in Maseru, Lesotho from July 27 to August 3 and a decision is due later this week.

“In addition, the national executive committee of USSA (University Sport South Africa) will convene on April 20th to assess the status of these tournaments and to provide a plan on the way forward.”

The USSA winter national championships traditionally take place in the first week of July.

The Madibaz sports head said she felt for the student-athletes affected by Covid-19.

Several students were due to participate at international competitions, such as Charlize van Zyl who plays chess and Lwazi Mapitiza who plays Judo.

“With all programmes on hold it is up to the individual athletes wherever they are to keep themselves healthy and fit. Coaches and managers are in constant contact with them to discuss their training and studies.”


CAPTION: Madibaz director of sport Yoliswa Lumka says they are doing all they can to make the best of the challenging situation created by Covid-19. Photo: Brittany Blaauw


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