Other Sport

Varsity sports heading for TV

2012-11-15 12:04
Francois Pienaar (Coetzee Gouws/Full Stop Communications)
Cape Town - University sport in South Africa is set to get a high-performance boost with the launch of the Varsity Sports competition platform, which took place in Plettenberg Bay on Wednesday and Margate on Thursday.

Spawned from the highly successful Varsity Cup rugby tournament, Varsity Sports is the result of a partnership between 11 of South Africa’s top universities and Advent Sport Entertainment and Media (Asem).

Speaking at the launch, Asem CEO and former Springbok captain Francois Pienaar said the first phase of the made-for-television inter-university competition would get underway at the end of the month with two action-packed Olympic sporting codes in men’s rugby sevens and women’s beach volleyball.

The latter was introduced at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, with the former set to make its debut in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

“I personally believe there is so much sevens talent out there that will emerge through Varsity Sports,” said Pienaar.

“And this year women’s beach volleyball was the most sought after ticket at the Olympics. You’ve got great athletes, it’s glamorous and great fun.”

According to him, the competition, which had been three years in the making, aimed to achieve three major goals.

“Firstly, we want to be the high-performance level between school and professional sport, giving those students with talent the chance to compete on television in a structured environment.”

To this end, Pienaar said Varsity Sports would play a supporting role to all University Sport South Africa structures and sporting federations.

“Secondly, Varsity Sports will be assisting with transforming the sport to provide opportunities at tertiary level. But, and this is very important, the participants have to study and be successful because there is life after sport.

“And, thirdly, we have to commercialise the space in order to bring sponsors on board and ensure that the concept is sustainable and self-sufficient.”

Co-sponsors First National Bank, Steers and Cell C have already come on board, with more announcements expected shortly.

Pienaar said universities were the breeding grounds for the next generation of sports stars and cited the achievements of American-educated athletes at this year’s Olympic Games.

“If the universities in the United States were a participating country, they would have been second overall.”

He said the Varsity Sports model was strongly influenced by America’s Monday night college football culture.

“It’s a simple concept – Monday night is going to be Varsity Sports night across a number of sporting codes. The formats are made for TV, so they’re short, sharp and focused.”

He said the year-end beach volleyball and rugby sevens would deviate slightly with weekend tournaments at holiday destinations Plettenberg Bay and Margate because the students would be on their summer break by then.

Pienaar said one of the highlights of the Plett event would be the presence of Britain’s Olympic volleyball star Shauna Mullin, who would commentate and take part in an exhibition match with South African players.

“After the match, we will have a competition draw for the school children who attend the event. Varsity Sports will give back to the local community by sponsoring the lucky winner’s education for the next year.”

He said a focus on education was critical to the success of the concept.

“We’re saying to talented students, don’t give up on your sport. If they’re in the Varsity Sport set-up and they get a professional contract, they get a professional contract with a degree behind their name – and that to me is the ultimate.”

Pienaar said sports fans could expect a big announcement early next year about the other sporting codes joining the line-up. “This is just the amuse-bouche or hors d’oeuvre of what’s to come.”

The competition kicks off in Plettenberg Bay on November 23 and 24, before moving on to Margate on November 30 and December 1. All games will be broadcast live on DStv’s SuperSport 7 channel from 08:00 daily.

For more information, visit www.varsitysportssa.co.za, follow @varsitysportssa or join www.facebook.com/varsitysportssa.

Bitou deputy mayor Adam van Rhyner (right) welcomes former Springbok captain and Asem CEO Francois Pienaar at the launch of the Varsity Sports tournament in Plettenberg Bay on Wednesday (Coetzee Gouws/Full Stop Communications)

Read more on:    francois pienaar

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2017/18 PSL season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Floyd 'Money' Mayweather v Conor 'The Notorious' McGregor ... who've you got in Saturday's mega fight?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.