Volleyball set for a bright future

WITS VOLLEY: The Wits volleyball women’s team are aiming for the top three in the Gauteng Volleyball league, with their next match this coming Saturday. Photo: Roxanne Joseph

WITS VOLLEY: The Wits volleyball women’s team are aiming for the top three in
the Gauteng Volleyball league, with their next match this coming Saturday.
Photo: Roxanne Joseph

The Wits Volley ball women’s team is doing better than it has in the past five years, according to the captain, Sidhika Bharuth-Ram.

Their coach, George Fourie, a former player for South Africa, has turned the team around and has a knack for “developing people who don’t even know how to play the sport,” she said.

They are up against some tough competition but hope to make it to the top three in the Gauteng Volleyball league. Depending on the number of points they are awarded in the next few games, this Saturday and the following, they have a chance.

Bharuth-Ram said that in the University Sport of South Africa tournament, the team did really well. There was a lot of pressure on the team because Wits were the hosts. They had to practice and make sure everything was well organised, but they managed to make it to the top 10.

In the league, the team has “done really, really well” so far and are currently in the top three. Ever since the “The setter controls the game, where you want the ball to go and who you aim it at,” the team was moved from the lower premiums to the higher, they’ve faced “quite a bit of competition”, according to Thandeka Shabalala, the team’s newest player. They were doing well in the lowers and she is confident they will win this week’s match against KAD, a team from Johannesburg.

“The setter controls the game, where you want the ball to go and who you aim it at,”

Although volleyball is not a popular sport they have managed to attract some very promising players, according to Bharuth-Ram, “The dedication is amazing,” she told Wits Vuvuzela.

She completed her Honours in Accounting Science at Wits last year and has been playing for the team since 2010. She is the team’s setter, who is the “playmaker of the game”.

“The setter controls the game, where you want the ball to go and who you aim it at,” she said.

There are some first years on the team who only learnt about the game and began playing at the start of this year and have proven themselves as good, talented players. She describes the team as a “developing” one.

The team’s future looks “bright” but they face challenges including students who do not get bursaries and sometimes have to miss matches for work, especially on Saturday mornings.

Women’s team refuses to whimper

Keep Going: Members of the Wits women's team during a training session. Photo Mfuneko Toyana

Keep Going: Members of the Wits women’s team during a training session.                                                                    Photo Mfuneko Toyana

Digs fields, on a cold Monday evening: men’s teams swarm the grounds, preparing for the Wits internal football league matches. But in a small corner of one of the two sprawling fields, the Wits ladies football team plays a 4-a-side game.

Running laps around the field, male players pass derisory remarks. “Hayi ngamantombazana k’phela lawo” (Forget it they’re just girls).

Coach Jabulile Baloyi, a former Banyana Banyana midfielder, responds by demanding her players focus on the game. “Enjoy the last five minutes of the game, ladies.” She did not need to.

We’ve got what it takes 

Despite having their league game for that evening cancelled, the women got through a two-hour training session with visible delight, cajoling each other through the gruelling fitness drills set by Dlamini.

“It’s all about commitment. It’s the same thing with the course. The difference is commitment… putting in those extra hours and it pays off,” said team captain and goalkeeper Kholosa Dzakwa, HDipAcc.

Dzakwa, who is in her fifth year playing for the team, said most of the players had developed a real passion for the game.

More ladies needed

Recruitment, however, was still their biggest problem. “We have about 25 players on the team but about 16 are not registered Wits students…The typical player who maybe comes from Soweto struggles to come to training (in the evenings). But some of us have stayed for the love of the game,” she said.

Team coach Dlamini is in her second year with the team after a stint coaching Phiri Stars under-12 boys in Soweto. She said coaching women was different experience. “With ladies it’s more difficult because they’re more mature and because they only start playing the game much later.”  She said the university supported the team but there was space for more to be done. “It’s [the support] sufficient so far but it could be better. The stadiums fill up but only after our games [for the men’s games].”

Varsity Cup beckons after Pienaar’s promise

Dlamini said she wished the team could participate in a Varsity Cup type of tournament as it provided a higher level of competitiveness. Currently, the team participates in USSA (University Sports South Africa) league, and lies seventh in the 12-team league after losing only three games, with five more rounds of matches to go.


Wits Vuvuzela.  Fans turn out for soccer season openerJuly 24, 2013