Fort Hare softballers swing hard at Gordon Monk tournament

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Keamogetswe Mabusela and her Fort Hare teammates will travel to Kempton Park to represent the Buffalo City district at the Gordon Monk Softball Tournament this weekend. 


The University of Fort Hare will have the honour of flying the flag for the Buffalo City district at the annual Gordon Monk Softball Tournament this weekend.

As the only local university in the prestigious three-day competition in Kempton Park, it has fallen on UFH’s men and women to represent the region.

The tournament, marking its 43rd edition this year, is one of the longest running in the country and serves as a platform for the nation’s premier players to find their early-season form.

There has been little time for Fort Hare’s teams to prepare, as many students only returned to campus at the weekend.

However, they always knew the Gordon Monk event lay ahead and prepared accordingly ahead of the festive season break.

They were also given a holiday training regimen to follow by coach Nolwazi Mabindisa and her assistants. This involved a lot of running, strength and conditioning exercises as well as proper diets.

UFH performed extremely well at the University Sport South Africa (USSA) tournament in Pretoria, where the ladies finishing second and the men fourth overall in their respective sections last month.

“The Gordon Monk is important because it gives scouts and selectors a better chance to look at teams. There were a few at the USSAs but more will be in Kempton Park,” Mabindisa said.

The Gauteng tournament is a precursor to the nationals in March, so the standard of competition is always high.

“We won’t necessarily be chasing a podium finish but the tournament is a very good learning experience and gives our players the chance to be seen,” the coach explained.

“You must remember that they are only with us three or four years before moving on. If they want to continue playing, they will have to do so elsewhere, so the Gordon Monk offers a good opportunity for clubs to see them.”

With several members from the class of 2023 now either in their final year or pursuing postgraduate qualifications, Fort Hare have been fortunate to retain a lot of experienced players.

Enrolment by last year’s school-leavers also suggested that the softball stock would be replenished, Mabindisa said.

Four players – Zizipho Lingela, Sinenjongo Yolwa, Awanele Nompetsheni and Mlamli Mpofana – had been selected for the USSA national team in December and she was determined to see more caps at provincial level.

“Them playing at a higher level makes us better as a university team,” she said. “We are looking forward to this year.”