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10 November 2018 | in World University Championships, Netball

WUC Netball: A learning experience

STELLENBOSCH – For South African university netballer Stephanie Brandt, the FISU World University Netball Championship held in Uganda was a learning experience, and a unique opportunity to meet new friends from across the globe.

 

The Makerere University played host to the third WUC Netball competition, which saw seven countries from around the globe, including Kenya, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uganda, USA and Zimbabwe, battle it out for glory.

 

In the end, the competition boiled down to a nail-biting final between reigning champions South Africa and hosts Uganda, with latter scoring in the dying stages of the game to secure a last-gasp 44-43 victory.

 

However for Brandt (left; with her teammate at the WUC Netball), one if the integral members of the South African team, just being at the tournament was an achievement in itself.

 

The 22-year-old, who has been playing Netball since her early years in primary school, has been a consistent performer for the University of Stellenbosch, and was a deserved selection for the national university team that participated in the global tournament.

 

“I was very excited and felt honoured to be a part of the team chosen,” she says upon remembering the day she heard the news that she had made the team.

 

Expectations were high from the start though: South Africa is a proud netballing nation, and as defending champions, were one of the favourites to take gold once more at the WUC.

 

All seemed on track as the South Africans went unbeaten the entire tournament, only to suffer heartbreak in the closing minutes of the pulsating final.

 

“We obviously went for gold, but you don't lose, you learn,” the third-year Education student humbly says in assessing her team’s silver-medal finish.

 

“It was disappointing, but everybody gave their best. We took out the positives and reflected on the match so that we know what to do different next time.”

 

Brandt, who says she was impressed by the level of Netball displayed at the tournament, says she left Uganda a better player, having learnt a lot from being in a national team set-up with top-quality coaches and teammates.

 

“My biggest takeaway would be the experience that I gained from the coaches as well as the opportunity to be able to play with all of the other brilliant players in the team,” she says.

 

Apart from the action on the court, Brandt applauded the spirit and camaraderie amongst all the participating nations, having immensely enjoyed the experience.

 

“I definitely made some new friends and we really had a lot of fun,” she says. “It was also fun participating against other teams from other countries.”

 

With the first WUC Netball tournament being hosted in South Africa, and the recently-concluded third having taken place in Uganda, Brandt feels it is great that African countries are being given the opportunities to host such major competitions and showcase themselves to a global audience.

 

“I think it is very important and it gives these African countries the opportunity to show what they have to offer,” she says.

 

With the Netball season now winding down, with her university side ending as losing semi-finalists in the annual Varsity Netball competition in South Africa, Brandt already has her sights on being selected for her provincial Netball side, the Southern Stings, while also going one better than her South African team did in Uganda.

 

“My next goal at this very moment is making the Southern Stings team, and to take any gold medal in 2019,” she declares.