South Africa's basketball community

Shaping our sport

By on September 25, 2008 in News

Article supplied by Molupe Thelejane

The generic requirement to fix SA basketball is to improve and align the political, administrative and technical facets of the game at all levels – club, district, province & national.

All sport is governed by three fundamental aspects – the political, administrative and technical aspects. By political I refer to the policy making, decision-making, agenda setting and preference shaping dimensions – the power and context defining aspects. One who views sport predominantly through the politician’s eyes refers constantly to the constitution, always attends the AGMs, is au fait with the political climate of the country or their constituency and skillfully manipulates others to conform to a certain agenda, thus enhancing their power base.

Technical aspects in this instance refer to the on-field, practice courts, skills development and game specific strategic and tactical dimensions. The technician is solely concerned with just playing, reffing or coaching. Technicians are mainly the participants. In between the politics and the technical dimensions are the administrative functions. Administration does not just refer to sending out an e-mail reminding people of fixtures but is rather developing sustainable systems and relationships that ensure the long term wellbeing of the sport. The administrator sees the opportunities and seeks to take advantage through marketing, organizing leagues and tournaments and executing the policies that the politicians have drawn up. These are the people who ensure that secured sponsorships are correctly allocated, raise awareness of the game, etc. Whether you are involved with a small club, run a league or province or are involved with national structures, all of these fundamental aspects are part and parcel of your sporting life. What differs, according to the situation, the personalities involved and the prevalent circumstances, is the relative value placed on each aspect.

I grew up at a time when most black people used every dimension of life as a battle against apartheid. In a sporting context this meant that black-led sport was necessarily politicized. The majority of white people wanted sport depoliticized and emphasized the administrative and technical aspects of their sports. The political aspects of the sport were left to the government – something unacceptable to most black people. Even today strong remnants of those viewpoints remain. Sports such as rugby and cricket, predominantly emphasize the administrative and technical aspects. The political aspects are seen as things to do to appease the government’s more stringent requirements, and hence to many politicians are inadequate. However, in sports such as soccer and able-bodied basketball, the predominant focus is on the political aspects – the power battles, with a subsequent drop in the administrative and technical aspects. These sports are aligned with government’s representative policies but administratively and technically are not world class. Interestingly, basketball in SA has swung from being technically and administratively relatively well run with its politics being unacceptable to some, to its current state where politically it is acceptable to many but administratively and technically it is gravely in need of help. Wheelchair basketball differs somewhat from able-bodied basketball – it emphasizes admin and technical aspects more than the political.

So what are we to do in SA basketball? In a sense we are starting to do what needs to be done. Let me give you an example. In Gauteng the leaders of the provincial association, GBA, are predominantly politicians. Politically these leaders are excellent. However technically and administratively you can see that some rounding off is required. There is another group who have started a league, the LOP. This group is generally administratively excellent. They are the guys who we see on TV, have a voice on radio and market the game well. If you followed the interactions between LOP and GBA, you noticed that LOP needed rounding off on the sports politics front. I have heard that from 2009 GBA will be using the skills of LOP to run the league. This is exactly what is needed in all of SA – the politicians leading the bodies but delegating the running of the sport to the administrators. Both the administrators and politicians need to make the climate conducive for the technicians (the participants) to thrive. Congrats to GBA and LOP. However, this cannot be a once-off intervention but rather the development of a model of how to run our leagues.

Is this all that we need to do in SA? Obviously not. Just unpacking what it means to properly administer basketball in SA requires our best administrators (with a damn good facilitator) meeting regularly and thrashing out the fundamentals of administrating. Similarly our technical people need to do the same. Politically I would guess that the interim Basketball South Africa committee has been spending their time redeveloping the political aspects of the game. In the meantime we need to take advantage of all the low hanging fruit (things we could do easily). Examples:

  • If BWB is always here, why don’t our SASSU men’s national team, or our U22 national team, or our senior Gauteng provincial teams, etc arrange a game against the BWB All-Stars? Record the game and let the BWB people critique the game with us as part of a coaching clinic? Imagine the growth for all of us.
  • Did you know that Maxaquene and teams like that often used to come to SA to prepare for their leagues? Why aren’t our local teams scheduling and playing games against them? What about playing all these Angolan teams that go through SA when preparing for national or league tournaments?
  • How about our senior national women’s team participating in the men’s section of the U18 tournaments as part and parcel of their preparation? If our women can win this tournament they can physically compete against Mali, Senegal etc. Seeing as we only have 9 provinces, the national team could be the 10th participant in the tournament.
  • If asked I would be happy to co-ordinate coaching clinics at the upcoming senior inter-provincial tournament. The clinicians would be the national team coaches (past and present) that are available.

These are some examples of low hanging fruit but to make it all work requires political, technical and administrative cooperation.

Finally as one with a predominantly technical approach I was struck by the following comment made by Tim Noakes (a technocrat too) in the Financial Mail of 29 August 2008: “Exceptionally clever coaches will produce Olympic champions regardless of the quality of facilities at their disposal.” I agree with that. So, to all coaches working under trying conditions, frame this and let this be our goal – producing champions despite our circumstances. To the politicians and administrators, while the technicians are trying to create greatness in trying conditions let this nevertheless not be an excuse to better the trying conditions.

Comments? As a coach I have become a bedfellow with criticism – both positive and negative. I use it often and receive it often. It is not the critic that is important, but rather the validity of the criticism.

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There Are 21 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Victor says:

    Great article Molupe! So many things to take out of it, really enjoyed the insight. Ciao, V

  2. Darren says:

    Very insightful article, Molupe.

    Your analysis explains quite a lot about the game’s current state, and the examples of ways to progress are excellent – hopefully your writing will instigate more positive ideas in this direction.

  3. Sam says:

    O.M.G.. Great read and visionary indeed… words and ideas taken right from my mouth.. great to see that i was not dreaming and someone out there shares my vision. from the article theres are two points i would like to highlight that if achieved then great milestones will be achieved in basketball more especially with women basketball..
    these two point are about the BWB and national teams across the board, from u/10 straight to the senior teams as well as the womens team playing in one of the well established leagues but against the men (awesome idea!!!)..
    to the writter of the article, i take off my hat to you and wherever you’ve been hidding, make sure you never go back there and share you thought as they are most inspirational….

  4. Coach Pat says:

    Hey Mudupe – Great article and some serious thought and suggestions…
    Should you be succesful in your endevours to host coaching clinics at the upcoming inter-provincials I would gladly make myself available to share past experiences and current international trends as well as various coaching principles and techniques free of charge in recognition of our need to take basketball to the next level in this country!!!
    Keep on coaching – Patrick Fick SA Men’s Assistant / ex-Head Coach.

  5. kim says:

    I would like to first commend Molupe on writing this article…..I for one would like to concentrate on the emphasis of the ‘low hanging fruit’ as Coach Molupe put it.When I commented on the BWB not so long ago,I said we must stop blaming BWB and ask ourselves what have we done to take advantage of BWB,coach molupe has highlghted a few examples that can be used to prepare ourselves for any tournaments that need to be engaged by our National teams and all the way down to district or even club levels.

    If we look at the current scenario,the SA senior team is only going to start preparing itself for Zone 6 qualifiers when the Popo hits the fan and by then it might be too late.There are coachs willing to assist in many sustainable activities i.e. Coach Florsh,Kita,Zanele,Pat,Molupe,Mandla,Nicky,Asnati,Craig D,Craig G,Nthato,Willy,Danie,Terry,Monwai,Joe etc…all that is needed is a plan and I am sure that all these coachs and many unsung sons and daughters of the sport would be willing to get dirty.

    The only thing that I see in Coach Molupes analysis is that he rightfully indicates that Politicians are well placed in BSA but my analysis would be that politicians end up trying to be administrators as well and thats were I think the problem comes in.With the interim structure I think you have a balance leaning towards politicians but when they are finished putting our house in order,I am convinced articles like these will light up some ideas on whoever takes charge.

    Sometimes its not whether an article is correct of not but the ability to stimulate ideas is important and I think the article does that.

    Thanks for stimulaing our brains, Molupe.

  6. MQ says:

    A wise man once said, ” The height of your accomplishments will equal the depths of your convictions.”
    Good to see you still have basketball at heart despite its many obstacles, it is the diligence of people like you that will see us soar as a nation in sport. Great article coach.

  7. Joe says:

    Firstly, this a great article and I applaud Coach for the insightfull observations and explanation.

    Then, WHAT NEXT?

    From the contributions so far it seems as if we are still expecting politicians, ie BSA exec, to be able to come up with a one size fits all solution. As I have always argued, we are masters of our destiny.

    Therefore, I officially propose that coaches form a forum to advance thier course within the structures in a form of a Coaches’ Association. I know that the BSA constitution accomodates for a coaches’ commission, but this is firstly controlled by BSA and dependent on BSA for its existence. The Association will be independent of BSA but will be part of BSA as an affililated member. This will ensure that coaches’ interest are taken care of with or without BSA. This model will not be foreign to South Africa as it is pratised in internationally, ie US.

    I could provide more information if need be and facilitate the process but only if the interest does exist.



  8. Molupe Thelejane says:

    Thank you all for your comments. Victor thanks for posting the article. Thank you too Darren. Is this Darren at St Charles? Sam, you sound like a man full of ideas – put them down and let the discussions continue. Coach Pat I will take you up on your offer. Even if we do not get a clinic done at the Interprovincials once I am properly setttled down in a club I will request your services. Kim, keeping building that monster at CUT. Cannot wait to see what will come out in a year or two from there. MQ I would love to see you get into coaching sometime. You have a lot to offer. By the way whose quote is that? I like it. Joe, I am reliably informed that the Interim Basketball SA committee has a subcomittee working on re-establishing the coaches commission. Let us see what comes out of that proposal and then we can modify as required.

  9. Joe says:

    Well, it seem as if Molupe’s article will go down as yet another white noise dependent on whether stuctures take congnisancse of its message. And I am afraid that this is the story of bball in South Africa so far, ie great ideas ending up in a corner.

    HOWEVER, there might still be hope.

  10. Setlogelo says:

    The article is a good writ. However it exposes the stagnant position of the mentality of issues concerning basketball in the country. I believe that the opportunity to fix basketball has long passed. As far as I know, there has never been leaders who admittted that there have been mistakes. Nevertheless there have been fingers pointed out among the individuals who were supposed to lead the sport. It has been more or less the same situation as in the ANC where people followed an individual rather than subscribing to the principles of the movement. Individuals were in a war, so much that they did not know what to do at the end thereof.

    Next week or so, the BSA consitution will be adopted and the permanent structure will probably be put in place. One wonders what motions will be put on the table on October 11.

    Individual members of teh new leadership must learn from the mistakes of the past. Like Brian Keough, they should have a list of ten commandments which will cause the association to fail.

    At the moment there are some coaching clinics in Durban. I have been told that there has been talk about the coaching commission. I have heared that one before, plenty of times.

    Opportunities are there and it seems like there is an unknown fear to implement the good ideas that come to the fore.

    There is nothing to fix when the building collapsed.This is time to build a strong foundation for the legacy of basketball. This is the time to acknowledge the power of the people at the bottom of the hierarchy. It is time to reach out to the districts and influence them to buy-in on the proposed programme. Most critical, it is the time for the people at the districts to organise themselves and position themselves to offer service to the new leadership. Districs will create more opportunities for the game that we so love.

  11. Joe says:


    I also feel that the interim committee has missed a trick and I am afraid that this is another case of OLD HABITS DIE HARD.

    As a district constituent of BSA I was hoping that the interm committee will consult thoroughly either in a form of an INDABA or SURVEY before planning the agenda for the General meeting. I was also hoping that provinces will play a much more active role in communicating between BSA and districts, clubs, players, administrators, technician.

    It seems the interim, like in the Vusi era, have decided that they know everything and therefore do not need to consult with constituencies OR have no clue about the important role of districts.

    I am afraid that we seem to be heading back to the dark ages of “LEADERS” who have not heard of CONSULTATIVE LEADERSHIP.

    It is with this view in mind that I personally feel that coaches should not be waiting for the commission, but rather take the bull by the horn and form a Coaches’ Association.

  12. Setlogelo says:


    I guess revolution is critical at this stage. We are forming the Mangaung Basketball Association this Saturday and have a position for a Coaching Person. I am also spearheading the formation of Naledi basketball association as well as Mantsopa Basketball Association. These three will form a constutional Motheo District Basketball Association before in February. We have great people this side such as Lefa Vetstock and Jimmy Moepi whose vision needs to be given as much support as possible. We also have great people in Dewetsdorp and Mantsopa where I realised that their passion need to be nurtured as they continue to make special efforts for the sport of basketball.

    As the Mangaung Bball Association, I hope we will be able to influence individuals in the surronding areas to organise themselves into structures. Fortunately we have one supportive Dumisani Toka who become available whenever duty calls. In the next two years we should be able to populate the Free State with associations in every local municipality. Our strategy must have a core business of developing local associations in other areas. Bloemfontein is a city with many opportunities. I do not not see why we cannot be able to do so. We can organise tournaments and invite the representivity of a local association.

    Perhaps the Province and subsequently BSA will have a plan. But this time they will not have an option but to follow what we shall start.

  13. Setlogelo says:


    Will you please send me your phone number on my e-mail. It is

    Thank you in anticipation.

  14. Joe says:

    Will do.

  15. Manyehlisa says:

    Molupe thanks for taking us back to school and informing us on the basic fundamentals how to run the game of basketball, hopefully those who wish to mange this sport will have those three key principles in mind whenever it is decided that we will have a professional league in the country.

  16. aphane says:

    The LOP and GBA are not the best that they could be, but by them helping eachother, hopefully when a player is dismissed there can be proper procedure and employment contracts involved.

    A good player, in one of the prominant teams in the League of LOP, suffered from a dismissal because of PERSONAL reasons between the owners of the team, this gross mismanagement of those in controlling positions is impacting the game negatively, careers are destroyed and the sudden shuffle in the team affects the team in games, the result being the humiliation witnessed on sunday at hall29.

  17. setlogelo says:

    I hereby propose the Club Championships for all the league champions of 2009. Since the current leagues end in October, it would be a great opportunity to have the said competition in mid-november just before the Seniors Tournaments.

  18. Setlogelo says:

    Please ignore my comments.

  19. Joe says:


    I tried your email, apparently it is full. You can contact me at

  20. Setlogelo says:

    I will contact you then. I was over their (webmail) quota.

  21. Darren says:

    Molupe, thanks for getting involved in the discussion here! (I’m not the Darren from St Charles).

    On another note, I just want to remind everyone about The ‘Hood, and let you know that on there you are able to send private messages to each other. Joe and Setlogelo’s discussion here serves as a great example, and if they were to join The ‘Hood (c’mon guys 🙂 ), they could easily get in touch with each other. I know they have already done so, but I just wanted to highlight one of the benefits of joining that community for everyone who hasn’t taken the plunge yet. Thanks, hope to see you all on there.