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Rhodes water polo welcomes new recruit

Date Released: Mon, 22 October 2012 13:00 +0200

The Rhodes University First Girl’s Water Polo team is providing a means for female students to get fit and make friends. With mounting academic pressures, the team sport offers a healthy way to relieve stress and contribute to another aspect of the Rhodes culture. Dani Van Rijswijck, one of the newest members of the team is finding that water polo is not just game, but a lifestyle.

“At first water polo was just a fun way to get some exercise,” She admits. “Then it became a hobby. Then, as I started to get more and more attached to my team, it got harder to take it not-so-seriously.”

The Rhodes Water Polo teams are all affiliated to the University’s Aquatics Society. Although relatively small, both the female and male teams take part in competitive games, for example the annual USSA Aquatics National Institutional Tournament, which will be held in Cape Town this December.

Van Rijswijck played water polo in highschool, and decided to try it out again when she arrived here in Grahamstown at the beginning of the year. She says that she had her reservations at first.

“Being the only First Year in the team, it was a bit intimidating at first.” She confides. “I had to pitch up for practice and matches by myself, while the other girls were already friends because they had played together last year.”

The team quickly made efforts to accommodate their new recruit and Van Rijswjick has increasingly come to view her team mates as friends or even surrogate sisters. As a member of the team, she has been able to meet other students she would otherwise never have come into contact with and feels this has greatly enhanced her social life. But she does not feel that being on the team has detrimentally affected her studies.

“We have set practice times so you can plan your academic work around them. Practices are in the evenings so we don’t miss lectures or anything like that.”

“I think that sport is also valuable because it teaches you discipline and team building, helps relieve stress and keeps off that 1st year spread!” She adds.

The Rhodes Team usually does relatively well competitively, playing games against opposition such as NMMU (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University). In the recent Tri-Varsity tournament - which took place here in Grahamstown - the girls’ side suffered a severe loss against NMMU, but were proud to level out the playing field some weeks later in a league game against the same team. Although they still could not best their NMMU rivals, the team was reportedly satisfied with the close game which ended with a score of 3-2.

Outside of the competitive sphere, the team members are also known for being excellent sportswoman. Cari-Lee Haakonsen, a member of the team, was nominated as one of the Rhodes Sportswoman of the Year 2011 and was awarded the “Administrator of the Year” title.

Van Rjiswijck emphasizes that Haakonsen is not the only big personality on the team.

“Everyone brings a different aspect to the team, but in spite of this we somehow all manage to get along quite well. One thing is for sure: there is never a dull moment when we get together!”

By Kerstin Hall

Source: Grocott’s Mail

Photo source: The Oppidan Press online

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