The match was a to-and-fro battle that saw both teams take the lead on numerous occasions and, despite the loss, the Hustlers will walk away knowing that if they can keep up the tenacity and energy with which they played this game, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
They’ll need to tighten up on their finishing if they want to threaten the top of the table but chairman Bongani Hutamo is confident that the boys in red and black can make a name for themselves in the Super league, despite being relative newcomers.
“Every match is important and they become increasingly difficult now as only four teams will advance to the semi-finals and if we want to attain the goals we have set for ourselves we need to keep up the pace.
“Derby matches against Montana Vikings and the Nyanga Cape Waves are always special and dubbed as the battles of the Cape Flats.
“Our club was established in 1995 and we play in the CTBA but there was a period of inactivity between 2009 and 2012 when the club deregistered due to a lack of funds. I joined in 2012 and around that time we formed a committee with the aim of bringing the club back to its former glory days.
“Through hard work we were able to get the necessary funds and register two senior teams, one mens’ and one womens’ in 2013 and we have not looked back since.
“In the three years since we have been up and running again our ladies have won the league twice and our mens’ side have been finalists and quarter-finalists before,” he said.
Originally from Daveyton, in Gauteng, Hutamo, a 35-year-old small power player, became involved with the game in his high school days, where he says he was recruited into his school’s side because he was one of the taller boys.
He fell in love with the competitiveness of the game and when he moved to Cape Town in late 2011, he went in search of a side that he could come to love as much as he loved the game. Hustlers is that side.
“Being elected chairman is a big responsibility but we hope to keep the club going and produce top players who can walk in the footsteps of club players Xola Lizwe and Vincent Ntunja, who have gone on to represent the Western Cape and South Africa. These players serve as beacons of hope for the young kids.
“Last year we were able to grow our club as we started with junior sides and since then I am happy to report that we have increased the number of teams.
This year we were able to register an under-14 and under-16 girls’ side as well as an under-16 and under-18 boys’ teams.
“Our hope is that by next year we will have a full quota of under-12 boys and girls too. We want to see as many kids playing sports as possible and this is a great team sport for them to get involved in. We could not have done this without the help of Ndzuzo Manona and Khosi Mdlotyeni, who have given a lot of their time to make sure the youth structures were established and are running smoothly,” he said.
He laughs as he highlights the hard-fought nature of the game at the weekend and vows that the Eagles are in their sights for a grudge match when they play them in the second round of fixtures.
Hutamo feels that although much is being done to promote the game within already-established basketballing communities, there is still a long slog ahead to get the game to the position he feels it rightly deserves.
“I think one important aspect that is being neglected is to increase visibility in townships as most matches are played away from this vast pool of talent. If we can work on that it will help us in our recruiting drives and also help to get sponsors on board.
“Most parents in our communities don’t know much about basketball or haven’t seen the sport played so when the visibility of the league and the sport increases in townships we could see the changes we would like to see.
“Of course, it is difficult to run any club without fees and sponsors and our hope is that we can get a sponsor to help us with the current lack of funds we are experiencing. We need to get the kids to town every Saturday and on Sundays we need to get the mens and women’s teams to their matches as well.
“Many of our players either don’t work or are students and we try to do the best with what we have. Our vice chairman, Linz Mbeyiya works hard in this regard to ensure that we don’t end up in the same situation we faced in 2009,” he said.
* If you can assist in any way, contact Bongani Hutamo on 083 378 4663 or email email@example.com