THE 25TH SAMBA GAMES OFF TO A GREAT START
Written by: Thabiso Goba
The Fred Crookes Sports Centre hosted the 25th Annual South African Masters Basketball Association (SAMBA) from the 23rd to the 24th September.
The tournament which is an amateur tournament for elderly men and women is famous for its diversity, featuring players from China, Yugoslavia and mostly Mozambique; who make the 6-hour journey every year for the 2-day competition.
Simon Craydott, the organiser of SAMBA said that over the years the tournament has grown in popularity and numbers leading to him even declining teams because of the high demand.
“There was always a gap with people leaving university, basically the guys who stopped playing. We started SAMBA 25 years ago simply just so people can continue playing basketball,” said Craydott.
The tournament is divided into age groups from 30+ to 70+. Craydott added that the oldest player they have had was 75.
Marcel van der Heever (57) an IT project manager from Durban, has been involved with SAMBA for over two decades, playing for the Sharks.
“I learned to play basketball overseas (Japan) as a youngster. When I came here to Durban for university, I played for the local, provincial and national (basketball) sides and I have never given up since,” said van der Heever.
Van der Heever lauded the diversity of the competition, praising his team’s Chinese point guard who “shoots three’s like you have never seen”.
Making the trip all the way from Mozambique, Jurema Fatima (34) who plays power forward for BCI in the women’s 30-plus division, first entered the tournament back in 2013.
Since then, Fatima and her team has gone on to compete at the SAMBA’s every single year without fail.
“I like to play basketball and meet new people, it’s good for me,” said Fatima.
Like the majority of players in this tournament, Fatima has a background history of playing basketball at various levels and now plays for the love of the game.
The tournament is set to be held in Pretoria next year.
*Caption: A mixed team photo between the 30+ men’s division Craques da Boca (white) and Legendz (Black).