POLOKWANE – Due to the game’s demanding nature and its complexities, it is very uncommon, but this is not the case in Mabokelele village in the Moletjie area, where the celebrated mostly American ballgame is breaking the mold.
Joe Machaba is the one who introduced basketball in Moletjie.
Machaba, a retired high school principal, is still regarded as the David Livingstone of the game in Moletjie and beyond.
Machaba’s grand exploration effectively took a myriad of young children from the dusty streets and integrated some of them into a system that turned them into class acts of the modern game.
Situated at the heart of Boetse High School, Machaba’s former workplace, the team systematically became the catalyst for comprehensive club and school sport development.
Situated at the axis of the school, the local basketball court became the ideal hatchery of talent for both the school and the local club, Knicks.
In an interview with the club’s secretary, Kolobe Lebepe, he took a journey down memory lane, reminiscing on how approximately 120 young boys and girls between the ages 12 and 18 as well as senior men and women honed their skills on a makeshift court.
It was Machaba’s sense of basketball purpose that became the springboard from which the game’s revolution and transformation agenda were launched.
Musing over the road travelled thus far, Lebepe said: “the foundation of our team might sound like a fairytale of some sort, but the reality of the matter is that we started without standardised training facilities. However, Knicks produced a number of players who participated in the provincial teams.
With the help of a dedicated school principal, Machaba, whose basketball nuance was unsurpassable, we managed to win many school tournaments.
“A wealthy basket-ball history has already been written over the past years despite financial constraints and lack of facilities in our neighbourhood”.
In 2006, there was panic that Knicks would disband when the team was hit by a mass exodus of players leaving the village for academic and employment pursuits.
The situation further deteriorated following Machaba’s retirement from the school.
However, the Knicks staged a memorable comeback.
The spirit of the game was revived through campaigns like #Bring BackOurBasketBall and #DonateaBasketball.
The campaigns caught the attention of Midrand company, Adcock Ingram, which made generous donations to help revive the club. These donations included water bottles, sport bags, T-shirts, blankets, arm bands and torches.
This successfully managed to revive the Knicks and the sport in Moletjie.
Adcock Ingram went on to donate R20 000 which the team used to erect a standardised basketball court.