Ntando set to slam dunk his way to top
Eastern Cape player only 13, but gets nod for SA U23 basketball team
He is only 13, but Ntando Nokama, sees his inclusion in the national U23 basketball men’s wheelchair squad as a chance to travel the world.
Nokama, the youngest wheelchair Springbok in the province, represents the Eastern Cape wheelchair basketball men’s U23 side and is yet to make it into the main team – Buffalo City Suns – who are campaigning in the Supersport Wheelchair Basketball National League.
The debutant, whose dream is to play professionally in Canada and Italy, said initially he was hoping to be selected to the Suns squad first before travelling abroad to fulfil his dreams. “I want to play for the Suns and I wish that more young people would use sport as a vehicle to deal with their frustrations and not by using alcohol or drugs.
“Because, if I’m not playing, I’m studying or singing my favourite songs because I love choral music,” said Nokama.
“I think young people should stop abusing drugs and alcohol, and rather focus on playing sport and on their books because that’s how I managed to get selected to the team,” said Nokama.
The guard man on the court, said being born in Stutterheim in Mgwali, where opportunities for the disabled are few and far between, prompted his relocation to Mdantsane’s – Vukuhambe Special School.
“Here is where it all began and I met all these who inspired me to play this sport, but most importantly Ayabonga Jim, inspires me every time I play with him.
“And I’m grateful to the coach for helping me reach my potential.
“Here is where it all began and I met all these who inspired me to play this sport, but most importantly Ayabonga
“The entire provincial team believed in me that’s why I was able to play and impress the national scouts – without these guys I would never have made it,” said Nokama.
He said they might have beaten their opponents in their previous game in the Vodacom Wheelchair U23 men’s national Top 4 Championships, Gauteng, 38-19 in the finals, but it was not all plain sailing.
“Our shooting was not on point even though our defence was solid – and I think that’s what actually helped us gain confidence, it was our defending.
“But thankfully we regrouped making sure we don’t let down our guard without a sweat,” said Nokama.
Provincial U23 team coach Ayanda Langa, said last year Nokama was selected by national scouts for inclusion to the national U19 side, but the dream of gaining Springbok colours was short-lived.
“He was chased out of that team because of his age,” said Langa with a chuckle.
“When the officials realised he was 12 years old at the time, they sent him back to us and told us that he was too young to play there.
“So I’m happy he’s finally included in the national squad, because even though he’s still a child he’s very professional and he’s very talented.”
The Suns on Saturday play the Mandeville Eagles from Gauteng in the quarterfinals of the SuperSport Wheelchair Basketball National League at 10am. The game will be televised on SuperSport.