Gymnastics club and Wits Sport in USSA tussle

Wits Gymnastics may not be attending the USSA tournament over a demand for a fee of R1500 per gymnast by Wits Sport. Wits Sport has argued the club hasn’t done its part in fundraising and must now step up to the plate.

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HOOLA HOOPING:Senior Wits gymnast Makgotso Tibane showed impressive structure and skills doing her first competition in rhythmic gymnastics in the hoops section early May. Photo: Anlerie de Wet

Wits Gymnastics athletes were left disappointed when they learned will not receive funding from Wits Sport to attend the University Sport South Africa (USSA) tournament this June.

Wits head of sport, Adrian Carter, notified the club’s co-chairperson, Nonkululeko Mdluli earlier this week that the club has not met funding requirements to attend the USSA Gymnastics tournament end of June in Potchefstroom unless each competing member coughed up R1 500. The athletes were only given three days to raise the money.

“We understand that there isn’t a lot of money and that we need to make a contribution, but three days is too short notice for students to pay such a large amount,” said Mdluli.

Carter said the gymnastics club knew since the end of February when they handed in their USSA budget, allegedly late, indicating the direct cost of R2 275 per student, of which each student would contribute R898. “They haven’t paid in their contribution nor did they meet the required fundraising amount,” said Carter.

Mdluli sent an official response on behalf of the club to Carter’s request, stating they have raised R25 656 from registration fees, a welcome braai and yet to be sold T-shirts. According to the response, over a 100 members registration fees brought the club R24 561. However, Carter said it would be unfair to allow the 14 gymnasts who qualified for USSA to use funds intended to benefit the entire club.

The gymnastics club’s USSA budget was R44 400, the club has R54 000 in their reserve account. According to Carter the money budgeted for transport is insufficient and the actual total cost to send 14 gymnasts to USSA would be more than R50 000.00.

“I’m trying to be fair as possible, but I’m not going to give this club R50 000 and leave less than R4 000 in the reserve for next year’s group to struggle,” said Carter.

Mdluli further protested that they were “thrown in the deep end” with Carter’s new financial system and there was no training from Wits Sport on how to approach businesses for sponsorship or how to draft a sponsorship proposal.

But Carter said Wits Gymnastics could have come to him for help at any time.

“Any club could’ve come to me earlier in the year to ask for help with sponsorship issues. Some took the initiative, but the gymnastics club didn’t,” said Carter.

Wits Gymnastics club is now facing cutting the list of members going to USSA or staying home altogether. Carter and the Gymnastics Committee are meeting next week once more to try and find a solution for the club to go to Potchefstroom in just two weeks’ time.

 

Wits gymnasts aiming for gold

Wits gymnasts showed off their supple skills and stretches while they were being tested for Level two at the Gold Reef Rhythmic Gymnastics competition. The girls took on the challenge with smiles all around, confident that they will get gold at USSA in June.

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HOOLA HOOPING:Senior Wits gymnast Makgotso Tibane showed impressive structure and skills doing her first competition in rhythmic gymnastics in the hoops section. Photo: Anlerie de Wet

The Wits Gymnastics club showed elegance and poise at the Gold Reef Rhythmic Gymnastics competition last Thursday afternoon on West Campus, Wits University.

Six of the club’s gymnasts participated in the competition in the balls and hoops sections. Even though the majority of the club are brand new to gymnastics, head coach of the Gold Reed Rhythmic club, Maureen van Rooyen believes “they will win USSA with a smile”.

“They are all starting out in rhythmic gymnastics and what they do, they do extremely well,” said Wits gymnastics coach Louise Brown.

There will be another competition in the coming weeks before the club sends its members to the University Sport South Africa (USSA) tournament taking place in Potchefstroom at the end of June.

Brown explains that these competitions before USSA will give the girls a better opportunity to polish their work and get a feel for what gymnastics competitions are really like.

“We have already practiced a lot and we have the best coaches, so I feel 70% confident that I will win USSA,” said mathematics honours student Vhuhwavho Matibe, who took first place for the balls section with an impressive 12.4 score.

Second-year LLB student and senior in the club, Makgotso Tibane, is positive that the club will do well at USSA, but hopes that after the tournament Wits Sport will take the club seriously.

“We have good abilities and everyone is committed. It would be nice to have some back-up from Wits Sport, because when we get medals, they take the credit,” said first-year BA General student Lihle Petros.

Although funding is a big problem for the club, Brown is more focused on taking on the challenges that the gymnasts are facing within the sport itself.

“Flexibility is the most challenging aspect for those starting a sport like this relatively late in life, but the girls are committed and enthusiastic,” said Brown.