Maties Sport celebrates its annual sports awards with the theme: ‘Here for Her’

Maties Sport has had a triumphant year, with the Maties Women’s Rugby team securing the inaugural Varsity Cup championship title, and two Maties Netball alumni representing the Proteas in the Netball World Cup hosted by Cape Town earlier this year. The outstanding performances of female athletes have been a major focal point in South Africa and is why Maties Sport has chosen the powerful them ‘Here for Her’. We celebrated the achievements of over 200 student-athletes on the 19th of October 2023 in Stellenbosch. It was a grand celebration of the exceptional performance of our student-athletes and staff.

The keynote speaker for the evening was Adele Niemand-Zeelie an ex-Protea Netball player and the former Maties netball defence coach who played an instrumental role in securing the team’s first Varsity Netball title in 2022.

I have always thought that one can test your own limits, mentally we have the tendency to convince ourselves that ‘I can’t or won’t’ because the physical demand is too much… I never plan to come first or win, each time. I compete against myself with the idea to be better than the previous time,” said Niemand-Zeelie.

Adele, a breast cancer survivor shared how she overcame the biggest challenges in her life and how it hasn’t stopped her from testing her limits and achieving all she has put her mind to.

Lutho Skweyiya and Ongeziwe Mali were honoured with the titles of Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year respectively. This award recognizes the outstanding efforts and significant contributions that student-athletes at Stellenbosch University make to the sports community. PhD candidate and rower Anika Pretorius was honoured with the Sportswoman of the Year (Parasport) award for her hard work and dedication.

Lutho, Ongeziwe, and Anika have consistently demonstrated their commitment on and off the field. Each winner expressed gratitude upon receiving their award:

Anika Pretorius – Maties Rower

I’m super excited and so grateful for this award. Having entered rowing this year, it was amazing to be a part of a team sport for the first time, to experience something different at Maties Sport, is such a great honour, and I’m just so grateful.”

Lutho Skewyiya – Maties Basketball Captain 

I honestly did not expect it at all… This is surreal, I definitely know I’ve worked hard and have ambitions beyond this but, I did not expect to be recognised for all the efforts I’ve been putting in during these five years. I’ve been doing it in the dark, thinking one day it will all make sense, I guess the Lord has his ways.”

Ongeziwe Mali – Maties Hockey Women’s Captain 

I’m very chuffed that I got the sportswomen of the year, I could not have done it without my team, I could not have done it without the coaching staff. Leno [Lenise Marias: Maties Hockey Head Coach] played a very crucial role, and I’m so appreciative to Maties Sport for helping me through my journey at Maties. And I’d like to thank everyone that was been a part of my career; onwards and upwards from here!”

Maties women’s hockey head coach, Lenise Marias, won the Coach of the Year award for the Team Sport category, and athletics coach Daniel Damon who specialises in discus and javelin took the award for Coach of the Year: Individual Sport.

Maties Rugby was honoured with two awards at the awards ceremony, with the Women’s Rugby team being recognized as the Team of the Year and the Club of the Year title was given to the Maties Rugby Club. This recognition is a testament to the hard work of the organization and their passion for the commitment to bettering their sporting code.

Merit Awards were also awarded to Lehan Botha (Student Administrator of the Year) and Maties Sport staff, Charle Swart and Hadley Volkwyn, who served a full term of office and have contributed and provided leadership at a national/international level, were awarded the Executive Leadership Award.

The Special Recognition award – Senior International Level is chosen by Maties Sport Chief Director, Ilhaam Groenewald who recognised Stellenbosch University alumni or non-student club members who have competed at the highest national level after leaving the university. Congratulations to Brandon Beack, Mandilene Hoffman, Nicola Smith, and Nichole Taljaard for their outstanding achievements.

Additionally, 15 athletes were acknowledged for their academic achievements and 37 athletes received full colours for their excellent performance while representing Maties Sport and their countries internationally.

By Jamie Wyngaardt