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Maritzburg College basketball team has etched its name into the history books

By Siya Pongco , in Basketball | Featured Basketball | News , at 2024-03-06

Under the guidance of Coach Suwi Siwila, the Maritzburg College basketball team recently achieved something that the school had previously achieved only three other times in its long history: going unbeaten through the KZN inter-school season.

From 16 September 2023, College’s 1st team demonstrated exceptional defensive hustle and a relentless offence to join the ranks of the 1991 team, which included notable players like Andrew Pratt, who is now a member of Maritzburg College’s School Governing Body, in the history books.

Coach Siwila told SuperSport Schools Plus he emphasised the importance of team building to establish a strong team culture.

The squad engaged in various legacy-building activities, with a focus on membership and goal setting. They dedicated time and gave back to the basketball programme by officiating junior games, working the tech table, and coaching junior teams, to ensure everyone was a part of and active in the programme.

Siwila said he stressed the importance of staying focussed on the task at hand and striving for improvement, rather than fixating on success or winning. He highlighted the team’s commitment to redefining winning as personal growth through basketball.

“Every week, whether it was a tournament or a regular practice, the players embraced this mindset and embodied it,” Siwila reckoned.

He also noted that, at times, when College’s focus drifted to the ultimate goal, they overlooked celebrating small victories and living in the present moment. “It’s essential to appreciate the journey,” he added.

Reflecting on his team’s achievements, Siwila said: “For the last two years, KZN schools have dominated the high school rankings in SA. The boys, this past season, were motivated by the desire to be the best in the country and also to make their coach Bongani Khumalo proud.

“We tragically lost coach Khumalo in December 2022 in a car accident, and every achievement thus far has been for him.

“The motivation also came from belief and knowing that College is a powerhouse and, rightfully so, deserves to dominate. You can’t explain it but playing for College is like no other feeling. Nothing feels impossible and hard to reach,” he said.

When asked what tactics were employed during times of adversity to inspire the players and foster team spirit, Siwila replied: “When we were faced with defeat or lacked motivation, the process was simple. We promised to create and leave a legacy and in doing so promised to see failure as part of the process. [It was] a learning and teaching point for everyone involved”.

He described working with the current squad as “amazing”. “To see them buy into our team values, principles of play, and gym programme, was a marvel. All they have achieved is a result of their hard work.”

The current Maritzburg College team has played in three tournament finals, winning the second edition Jenny Orchard Basketball Tournament, where they defeated the number-one team in the country, Northwood School, while finishing as the runners-up in the Kearsney College Independent Schools Stayers Basketball Tournament and the Kearsney Invitational Basketball Tournament. All three events featured teams from around South Africa.

“Having four SA u17 squad players and going unbeaten in arguably the toughest league in high school basketball is an amazing feat,” coach Siwila concluded.

“Congratulations to them and thank you to the team and everyone that has contributed to their success.”

Maritzburg College 1st Basketball Squad

  1. Inathi Masinga
  2. Ryeleigh Hoskins
  3. Josh Murekezi
  4. Lwandile Dlamini
  5. Ashar Ngcobo
  6. Nkhanyiso Ngcobo
  7. Naha Setipa
  8. Jonathan Gasarasi
  9. Kamva Sibankulu
  10. Ndumiso Mkhulisi
  11. Amu Mtolo
  12. Ntobeko Ngobese
error: Sorry ol' chap, those shenanigans are not permissible.