Hitting all the right hoops

Special mention has to go to HBC’s junior squads with six of their seven teams walking away 2016 Cape Town Basketball Association (CTBA)

For many, the elation of the season was overwhelming as players, fans and family rushed the courts at the University of Cape Town as the flagship under-18s pipped rivals Spartans in the final game of the season.

For coach Denwin Jones, gratification came at the end of a long season, and the fruits of the labour put in on the practice court showed, with four of the junior sides going completely unbeaten throughout 2016.

He hopes that the seeds they are planting now will grow into a talent-rich pool of players and, as a number of his current recruits will be battling it out for spots on provincial and national sides before the end of the year, it seems that the first batch of sprouts has already sprung.

“This season was massive for us as a club. There are some really good clubs in the leagues and the competition is tough so for us to have teams doing so well is a big deal.

“At the finals we had so many supporters in the stands, shouting for our players, it was like a major soccer stadium going crazy.

“After we won, the whole club basically ran onto the court and people were celebrating by jumping with and on the boys.

“For some players, especially the under-12 sides, this was the first time winning the league and it’s really important – they are still talking about it,” he said.

Of course, attracting players to the game is a key concern across the city but Jones feels that with the results flooding in Heideveld’s favour, half the battle is already won.

Jones does, however, feel that there is still more to be done to see the developmental ranks swell and help Cape Town basketball to produce the top tier players.

“We are fortunate that we are seeing results at our club and through our connection with schools the kids are attracted to the club. Our development programmes and having players making provincial and SA teams means that the game gets some good exposure and when the parents see what we are doing they send their kids to us.

“We actually only have two junior coaches who look after about 45 kids so on Mondays and Wednesdays when we train it is quite a scene but you can see the kids just can’t stay away, they love the game. “I think to create more awareness we need to take the game to places where it is not well known, organise clinics and set up clubs with proper coaching. If we have coaches and facilities like hoops and courts we can get the Western Cape’s basketball up where it belongs. It also helps to have schools involved. As a club we have a good relationship with Heideveld High School and we are at their courts pretty much 24/7 as we don’t have courts of our own,” he said. The point guard knows what it takes to wear the green and gold and feels that soon many other Heideveld players will be walking in his footsteps. He helps ply his trade with the Heideveld senior side, who have done well in the CTBA Super League this season. “Our senior side just missed out on the Super League semi-finals this year, ending in fifth place overall. Our second men’s side came third in their division and our women’s team ended third as well. So, as a club, we are performing well but we need to keep producing quality players at the junior levels. We have a handful of boys who are in the SA training squad and will hopefully make the final team that will be travelling to Angola later this year. Our youngest player is 6 years old and he plays in the under-12 side, as that is the youngest age division. Just imagine how good he will be when he is actually 12,” he said.