The shrill blast of the referee’s whistle permeated the sound of squeaking shoes and the bouncing thuds of the ball as women’s teams took to the basketball court in celebration of Women’s Month, last weekend, at the CPUT sports halls.
Among them, CPUT’s two sides featured with strong plays as they contended for top honours but at the end of the day it was the United States’ Beyond Sports team that were crowned champs at the event which was hosted by the Cape Town Basketball Association (CTBA).
Tournament convenor, Audrey September, of Mitchell’s Plain, fell in love with the sport when her son took up hoop shooting in high school, four years ago.
She left her job in the retail industry and began her own business transporting children to school and to their sporting activities and has not looked back since.
Her dream is to see the sport grow at all levels, from local community teams to the hustling school and university teams and at club and professional level.
A top priority is to grow the number of women athletes in basketball, with a tournament celebrating their role in the sport a fitting tribute in Women’s Month.
“Although I initially left the retail industry in 2010, I only became involved with basketball in 2012 when my son started playing for his school. He went on to represent Western Province and the Western Cape at school level and played in the 2016 University Sports of South Africa tournaments.
“In 2014 I was selected as the WP Cape Metro schools basketball manager for under-18 girls and was elected again in 2016. We had try-outs in July to select a team and I have since been selected as the Western Cape under-18 girls’ team manager.
“The girls will be competing at national championships in Pretoria, in December,” she said.
The CPUT event took place the Sunday before the country celebrated National Women’s Day, on August 9, with the idea of pitting as many Cape Metro teams against each other as possible, with games being played in a round-robin fashion across two groups, the winners and runners up facing off in the semi-finals and finals later in the day.
“Due to court and venue constraints the CTBA team decided on a one-day Women’s Day tournament to honour and thank the ladies playing the sport.
“Beyond Sport is a student-run non-profit organisation operating out of the USA. They have been visiting areas in and around Cape Town hosting basketball clinics. We invited them to take part in the event, which was also a way for us to say thank you for sharing their knowledge.
“They ended up being the eventual winners of the tournament, playing against CPUT2 in the finals, where they won 57-41. Other clubs taking part were Heideveld, CPUT Cats (CPUT1), Montana Vikings, CPUT Panthers and Lethal Ladies.
“The event was a great success and going forward we hope to have a Women’s Day event again next year but to make it bigger and better.
“I think the highlight was just seeing all the ladies having a good time, having fun and getting to play a lot of games in one day all in the name of sportsmanship,” said September.
Admittedly, basketball in the city has taken a dip in terms of the number of affiliated clubs and players, despite an element of professionalism being put in place with the formation of the pro team, the Cape Mountaineers.
September believes this can be countered by creating more awareness of the game and introducing the sport through clinics across the city.
“Our goal as the CTBA is to get more people interested in our sport through showcasing in schools as well as areas where we have identified talent. As the custodians of the game in Cape Town, we will also assist those who wish to get clubs up and running in their areas and help point them in the right direction. We are doing our level best to get basketball out there and build relationships.
“In my own area of Mitchell’s Plain there were not many schools playing basketball when I first became involved and now I can’t think of any that are playing the game anymore. With there being no club structure in the area it has died out once the players left school.
“My vision is to get schools in the area playing in the Cape Metro schools league and to follow up with a club structure that can compete in the CTBA leagues. Hopefully this can be done in other areas as well.
“The skill sets a player will need is to have good hand-eye coordination and be very fit as the games are played at a fast pace. Players then need to learn the rules of the game. There are also other ways people can get involved besides playing, such as coaching, refereeing, becoming a table official or even helping to manage teams,” she said.
If you would like to get involved with basketball, contact CTBA chairman Denwin Jones on firstname.lastname@example.org