Butterworth’s Mani making strides in basketball

University of Fort Hare basketball player, Asemahle Mani. PICTURE: UFH

Basketball was not a common sport among Black communities in South Africa. Due to the fact that numerous sports are now taught in schools, things have changed and there has been a noticeable increase. Asemahle Mani (22) of the University of Fort Hare was introduced to basketball in university and is currently one of the players making rapid progress.

Mani was only spectator at school basketball games. She never considered herself to be a basketball player in the future. However, things have changed since she was persuaded to join by a friend. “I often went to watch basketball games but was never really sure if I would be able to play the game,” Mani stated on the Fort Hare University website.

“In my first year, I would go to tournaments as a supporter and often thought about joining the club, but I never actually did,” Mani recalled about her basketball journey.

After her friend posted about a basketball practice on social media in 2021, things started to change. “I got into basketball through a friend. After he returned from the gym, we had a brief discussion about it. I decided to give it a shot and then see how things went,” Mani explained. She never had an issue, and she enjoyed the sport since she was well received by the Fort Hare players.

“I recall playing my first game a week after joining the club, and I had no idea about the rules or even how to bounce the ball properly. I just stood there and passed the ball to my teammates whenever it came my way,” said Mani, who is used to competing at big tournaments such as the University Sports South Africa Tournament.

Mani is now working to improve her attacking abilities in order to become a better player. She was delighted when she got six points in the most recent tournament she participated in. She is currently under pressure because she is the squad captain and must take the lead.

“We have to practice a lot because some of the players are more accustomed to basketball now that they are older. I try to raise the standard by ensuring that the rules are followed and encouraging good behaviour,” said Mani, who credited her coach, Thembekile Blaai, with showing them the way.