Johannesburg — A few years ago a handful of former Wits University basketball players came together to form a social team with perhaps no greater purpose other than to reminisce on long lost perceived athletic prowess. Over time and through development of our own relationships and networks this collective of professionals came to realise the full extent of the opportunities that were afforded us through sports and academics. With that realisation came the desire to make some small contribution to our surrounding community through the sport we loved.
With noble aims in mind the loose collective that referred to themselves as the Blues began holding their own practise sessions at schools in Hillbrow and kids from the area were invited to join. It was a small initiative meant to provide those kids with the opportunity to interact and be coached by then Wits University coaches, former national and provincial players and corporate professionals. Perhaps more than anything the greatest goal was ultimately just to have kids interact with professionals in various fields so that they could see alternate and positive perspectives on life and its opportunities.
What was meant to be a small and clearly naive effort to positively influence young minds turned out to have a greater impact on the professionals as opposed to the kids. Blues was moved by stories of either dreams shattered or a lack of ideas on how to achieve those still intact and an overwhelming sense of inability to rise above sometimes sad and tragic personal circumstances. The lives of Blues members were touched enough that it was decided to build an organisation that would do just a little more to help than what was originally intended.
In 2011 Braamfontein Blues NPC was born.
From inception the intention was to build an organisation that would make a necessary and sustainable impact through sport development. The organisation spent 2 years running several projects to gain a thorough understanding of the needs as well as build the foundations required to address those needs adequately. This solid foundation led to the development of the Inner City Super League in 2013 as the first project based on sound commercial principles and designed to deepen the impact of the overall goals.
The timing of the league appears to have been perfect. Basketball in South Africa continues to grow as a sport with an especially sound base at the school level where the largest schools in the country have had the sport grow to the extent where it competes with established codes for prominence. The interest is there. The players are there. The fans are there. ICSL has the easy part of building a brand that delivers excitement and thrills for players and fans and then gives back a return on investment for its stakeholders, key amongst them being the clubs and institutions that are integral to the success of the league. It is the success and growth of the clubs that will enable the ICSL to reach more kids than could have ever been imagined in Hillbrow all those years ago.
The belief is that success will come with imagination and creativity and an undying and unwavering dedication to good governance. That will be story of the success of the ICSL.
The goals are lofty and achieving them will take time but one day perhaps during another championship celebration everyone will look back and reminisce once again about foolish and niave attempts at changing lives on the streets of Hillbrow. Hopefully with some of those goals achieved it will all seem a little less foolish then.
by Tshiamo Ngakane