The Tuks netball team are faced with a challenging August, as they are expected to take part in a few good games that should help boost their reputation.
Under the leadership of head coach Jenny van Dyk, they have set a firm focus on winning.
Although Van Dyk has coached the team into an impressive statistic of 27 wins from 28 games this season, she has her sights on helping Tuks on retaining the Varsity title.
In spite of being instrumental in guiding the Tuks team known as the Jaguars to a second consecutive Brutal Fruit Series victory title, the USSA tournament and also helping Tshwane win the SPAR SA Championships, Van Dyk believes the best is yet to come.
The Jaguars have qualified to contest the Super Club Tournament in Nelson, New Zealand from 19–24 August, where the top three New Zealand teams from the ANZ Premiership as well as some of the top club teams from around the world are expected to be in action.
However, it will be a tough challenge for Tuks to retain the Varsity title, as they won’t have a full team in their first two games against Kovsies and Pukke as the players will be playing one tournament in New Zealand and another in South Africa.
Faced with a double challenge, Van Dyk has to split the squad into two teams. This means that the ‘A side’ will play in New Zealand while the ‘B side ‘will be in action at the Varsity Tournament back home. Although this might be viewed as a gamble, Van Dyk is never one to leave anything to chance.
The move will give the players international exposure and enable them to step up to the next level, pushing them out of their comfort zone. However this does not mean that winning the Varsity title is not equally important to Van Dyk.
‘I’m a fanatical planner. I always tell my players that a tournament is just an event you compete at. It’s not where you do your planning of how you are hoping to win. I believe you win tournaments the year before, during the off-season, making sure that no player ever misses a practice and its also where you strategise. If you manage to [do] this, a tournament is just the proverbial cherry on top where you collect the trophy,’ commented Van Dyk.
During the Brutal Fruit Tournament, 26 Tuks players played for various teams. Also, at the SPAR Championships Tshwane’s U-21A and U-21B sides all won gold, with most of their players being from Tuks – making Van Dyk’s coaching record speak for itself.
‘All substitutes are included in the team strategy from the start, this enables our coach to make on-court changes during any game without impacting the team’s performance and keep playing with the same intensity,’ commented Juzelri Garbers after Tuks’ success during the USSA tournament.
This is perhaps the best testimony that Van Dyk’s vision as a coach is working.
Photo: Tuks coach Van Dyk briefing her charges, by Reg Caldecott