‘Teamwork makes the dream work’

Wits’ women basketball players have outshone their male counterparts in the 2014 season, taking gold in the national league and tying for first place in the provincial league.

The women’s team, Wits Lady Bucks, is now regarded as “the best university team in the country for the 2014 season”, according to team captain Modiegi Mokoka, 3rd year BSc Construction Studies.  The team won the University Sports South Africa (USSA) basketball national championships in July.

Team work

Since then, the team has continued competing in the Gauteng Women’s Basketball League and the Gauteng University Basketball League (GBUL), in which they tied with the Vaal University of Technology for first place.

The men’s team came third in their division in the USSA national championships.

This year, the women’s team adopted a “win at all costs” system as opposed to the “everyone must play” approach of previous years, said Mokoka. Their successful performance this year was attributed to team work.

“We listened, we had confidence, we executed but, most of all, we played for each other. We went from 4th place to number one in the country. There’s no better progress than that,” she said.

After years of competing in the USSA championships, this was the first time the team took the top title, having progressed from sixth place in 2011 to first in 2014.

“We had faith,” said Patience Gumbo, BHSc Honours in Forensic Science and vice-chairperson of the club.  “We wanted to win it.  We really were determined this time. We have gone through so much and pushed through so much that we deserved and owed it to ourselves to give it all.”

The core team competed together since 2010, said Gumbo.  “Bit by bit, we kind of became who we are now, but we are still growing … We have been improving over the years and winning USSA national championships showed that.”

“Losing to VUT constantly by two points since the 2012 season pushed us to our limit.” 

The win had inspired and motivated the team to keep working harder, she said. “The other teams won’t be easier on us and they are just going to keep pushing harder.”

The toughest teams in the competition were Cape Peninsula University of Technology which reached the finals in 2012 and 2013, and Vaal University of Technology (VUT).  VUT were national champions for six years in a row, according to Coach William Matlakala, who has coached the women since 2010.

Game change

“The biggest pusher was that we were tired of defeat,” said Mokoka. “Losing to VUT constantly by two points since the 2012 season pushed us to our limit.”

She said VUT’s team consisted of national and international players and the entire team was on full sports bursaries (tuition and accommodation).  This made it easier for the team to be “basketball orientated”, compared to Witsies who played for the “love of it”.

“VUT and CPUT have scholarships for their players and athletes,” confirmed Matlakala. “We can’t do the same so that has been the main challenge.”

Mokoka said the team’s dynamics were “play as a team to win as a team”, but individuals had opportunities to improve on their own goals.  Their plans were to continue their success until the end of 2014 and to develop new players for the new season in 2015.

Coach Matlakala said defending the championship next year would be much harder, but fortunately, only a small number of players were due to graduate at the end of the year.  Before the end of 2015, they hoped to recruit new and advanced players.

GUBL games will take place this Sunday, from 9am to 5.45pm at Hall 29.


Wits FC ready for USSA Gauteng Football League

SETTING THE BAR HIGH: In the top four, Wits FC head coach, Karabo Mogudi is certain that his team will qualify for the USSA Gauetng Football League semi-finals.       Photo: Nqobile Dludla

SETTING THE BAR HIGH: In the top four, Wits FC head coach, Karabo Mogudi is certain that his team will qualify for the USSA Gauteng Football League semi-finals. Photo: Nqobile Dludla

Wits FC coach Karabo Mogudi says he is confident enough that his team will remain in the top four of the University Sport South Africa (USSA) Gauteng qualifiers as the season resumed on Tuesday.

The team has three more matches left until the semi-finals, which will see the top four teams battling it out to qualify for the USSA National Championships taking place in December.

“We have a fairly good squad this year. Performance is a little bit better [than the previous year].   We’ve tried and done our best and we think we’ll get there, but the job is not done yet. Our objective is to stay in the top four, qualify for the USSA National Champs and qualify for Varsity football,” said Mogudi.

For Wits FC to qualify for the USSA National Championships they need a minimum of three wins that will put the team through to the semi-finals, whether they draw or lose one game out of the remaining four. Of the four teams battling it out in the semi-finals, only three will be chosen to represent Gauteng at nationals.

“I’m gunning for three wins and one draw. I’m not looking for a loss. We must decide our own destiny. We need to decide and say ‘we are going to be in the top four and we are going to the national champs’,” said Mogudi.

“If we get 17 [points] that means we are definitely in the top four because that means we would have beaten UP (University of Pretoria) and UJ (University of Johannesburg) who are close to us … We are confident that we can do the job in the last two matches,” said Mogudi.

“I’m gunning for three wins and one draw. I’m not looking for a loss”
Last year the team juggled both Varsity Football and the Gauteng League which resulted in constant injuries and lethargy. According to Mogudi, he couldn’t rotate players due to injuries and prolonged recovery because there were “not enough [players] to rotate with”.

Mogudi believes sport administration support, quality players, medical assistance and high performance assistance will have a positive impact on the team’s objectives and the quality of the team that he is grooming.

“We need res, food, medical assistance, bursaries et cetera. Unfortunately we don’t get that much. The budget is limited. So for those living off campus it is a challenge for them to come to practice on weekends.”

According to Mogudi, “with some of the matches the team did not have a physio due to, among other things, the lack of funds. So dealing with a part-time physio means that when they are working on the same day as the match you end up going without them.”

Despite the challenges, Mogudi hopes to encourage the spirit of commitment among his players.

At number four, Wits FC has 11 points along with UP sitting at number three. In second place, Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) Pretoria also has 11 points and sitting comfortably at number one, the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) Vanderbijlpark has 16 points.

For the upcoming matches, Wits FC will face UP, Midrand Graduate Institute and Medunsa.