Basketball player, Thandiwe Nqanda, is on a mission to give back to the sport as she has served 12 years in the game.
The Wits senior ladies team co-captain fell in love with the sport when she saw a group of boys playing while growing up in Cape Town.
Nqanda reveals if she did not take up basketball, we would have heard her name in tennis circles as she had a keen interest in playing tennis at a younger age.
She has gone on to represent South Africa at junior level and won league championships within Western Province.
Speaking with Tlamelo Kganakga, Nqanda shares her views on challenges women in sport face and how media can amplify coverage.
Thandi, thank you for chatting to us, can you please tell us more about yourself and where you are from?
I am Thandiwe Nqanda, born and raised in Cape Town.
I’m disciplined, smart, talented and I love coffee.
When you decide that you wanted to play basketball? If you weren’t in basketball where would one find you?
I started playing basketball in 2009, my interest in basketball all started at Montevideo Primary School on a Monday morning, where I saw a group of boys playing and it was from that one moment that I knew that this is what I wanted to do.
If it was not for basketball, I’d be a tennis player. I grew up watching tennis and it was one of the sports I’ve always been encouraged to do but I never did. Basketball stole my heart and I never looked back.
Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
My mother, Joan Nqanda is the most influential person in my life. I’ve learnt a lot from her but most importantly she has taught me how to treat people well. She has taught me and shown me that being soft is not a sign of weakness. And it was through her teachings that I’m able to survive everything that life serves to me.
What is your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
My biggest failure has been not fully allowing myself to trust myself. Basically, not having confidence in some of the things I do. And what I’ve learnt from that is, fear is not the way to live through life as it deprives one from reaching their fullest potential.
How has this pandemic affected you and how are you dealing with it?
With regards to how the pandemic was for me, it hasn’t been much of a problem as it has allowed me to rather add onto my daily tasks as it was through the pandemic that I could explore my other gifts and talents. I’ve also managed to find time to rest and recover. This is something that I could barely do when life was normal. I’ve also grown to love and sink into my space.
What has been the highlights and lowlights of your career so far?
Highlights of my career in basketball are many but firstly, having to play basketball for 12 years consistently is a huge achievement and in those 12 years I’ve managed to make the provincial team a few times, win league championships within the Western Cape, MVP and all star awards, making the junior national team and being the Wits First Ladies Co-Captain.
Lowlights are really not being able to play as much basketball as I would during the past 2 years due the pandemic. This hurts as I’ve always had hopes to experience varsity basketball for a good 4 years.
What does it mean to be a woman in sport in South Africa looking at how far we’ve come and still having a long way to go?
Being a woman in sport is not easy as there are many challenges that women face because in reality we never come first on many occasions. We always placed last and that has been unpleasant to experience over the years, especially because of the amount of influence and hard work women put in to ensure that the sport functions.
And in essence, we have a long way to go and it’s only about time we fend and build for ourselves.
With the USSA Tournament coming up on 22 September 2021, how are the preparations coming along?
USSA preparations for Wits University are going well despite the fact that this is something we had to do in a short period of time. We only hope for the best for ourselves and our opponents.
What are you hoping to achieve in the sport of basketball?
All the things I’ve wanted to achieve within playing the sport, I have done so. I only wish to give back and assist where I can to ensure that the sport keeps on growing.
Lastly, what do you think we as media can do to amplify women’s sports coverage?
As for media coverage, women’s sport and achievements should not just be done during women’s month. It should be something that is constantly done. Celebrating greatness for women on a whole should not be seasonal, in that way we will able to do justice in ensuring that women are recognized.
Photo 1 Caption: Basketball player, Thandiwe Nqanda, is on a mission to give back to the sport as she has served 12 years in the game. Photo: Supplied