South Africa's basketball community

Rolling back the years and rekindling friendships at the SAMBA tournament

By on September 28, 2008 in Other Leagues

Have you ever wondered what happened when some basketball players hang up the shoes and move into the other world of business, work, family, etc…? Some completely walk away from the sport all together while others take part in the Masters tournament held every 2 years. I had the privilege of attending the South African Masters Games held in the City of Tshwane from the 24-28 September 2008, where I discovered those talented players of years gone by. For the young basketball generation of today, some of the faces and names would not be familiar but the moves and passion shown on the court by the participants at the “masters” have stood the test of time.While sitting there watching some very entertaining games, I felt like an ostrich that had his head in the sand for too long because this was my first Masters tournament and there had already been 27.As I was speaking to Richard Andriessen and Quentin Robinson, the organisers of the 2008 Tshwane edition of the tournament, I was astonished to discover the rich history of the event and the untapped basketball heritage that exists in South Africa. Quentin Robinson, who is also the chairperson of South Africa Masters Basketball Association (SAMBA), has been involved in basketball for the past 41 years and plays for one of the over 50 year’s old teams in this tournament. Richard who was one of the five vice presidents of BSA from 2004 to 2008 (responsible of the Masters at BSA level) used to be a referee but has decided to focus his attention on coaching both at the Masters and Wheelchair basketball. Both men have seen the good and bad days of basketball but they strive to keep the candle burning with their involvement in the Masters and other events.

What started out as a couple of former players wanting to meet and rekindle some old rivalries on the basketball court has turned into a basketball tournament that has been running for 24 consecutive years. With ex-provincial and national players taking part in this tournament, the wealth of experience on display is mind blowing and if you take some time to chat to some of the players you soon realise that their knowledge of the local games goes back a few decades. You have a blend of nationalities, races, gender, professions and height but everyone is there for one thing: BASKETBALL and the love of the game. The tournament is open to anyone and at this year’s tournament there were teams from Mozambique and Angola that added a bit of spice to the competition. I had a chuckle when I heard some of the VUT Alumni boys say that they are the “New Members” but their place in history is as secure as most of the participants at the SAMBA tournament.

Despite the bumps and bruises suffered on the court by the teams, the players look forward to the next game with the same hunger they had in their youth and you can only get inspired to keep on playing when you see a 50 year old men diving for a loose ball. The oldest player taking part is Jurgens Stadter who is 69 years old; while Butch Mackenzie, who has been attending the event since its inception, is 62 this year. What is the secret to some of these players longevity? Vaios Kokkoris, who is 60 years old and plays for “Mandeville Ou Toppie Giants”, says that you must never stop playing, you should stretch everyday and you need to diversify by doing other sports.

The tournament is attended in good spirits and gives a chance to some of the participants to reminisce on days gone by while doing something they all love. For some it’s been years since they last saw each other but when you listen to them chatting it feels like time has stood still. Basketball in South Africa has a wealth of playing and administrative experience at its disposal and you just have to attend the Masters to realise that you could learn so much from the former players. Let’s hope that we take time out to celebrate our former player and those that have contributed so much to the game that we all love.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

There Are 2 Brilliant Comments

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Darren says:

    Wow, who would have thought there is such a wealth of talent and passion that we know so little about.

    Do they run regular leagues or is it just this tournament that gets them together?

  2. Victor says:

    Hey D,

    From what I could gather they don’t have a league running but they have 1 or 2 tournaments once a year. But it was fantastic. ciao,V