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Basketball allows me to express myself authentically

“Basketball has a special place in my heart, but it has its challenges”

I joined basketball at Westerford High School in 2010 where I was fortunate enough to meet Coach Thesline Davids, who soon introduced my best friend, Saphron and I to a whole new world. Basketball was not a popular sport in most high schools in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, so being a part of Montana Vikings Basketball Club exposed us to the ball culture and the community. We would mission to practices at Montevideo primary school in Montana twice a week and force our high school teammates to have morning practices with us. This is where my love and passion for basketball started to develop.

Basketball soon taught me perseverance, discipline and self-confidence. It also blessed me with long-term friendships and mentors. One of my favourite aspects of basketball is the sense of belonging I feel. 

 I played for the University of Cape Town (UCT) from 2015 – 2018 and our team evolved with the help of Coach Matt Skade and driven teammates who made the varsity ball experience that much more memorable and enjoyable. We initiated a women’s internal league and attempted to infiltrate the men’s internal league too. While at varsity, I returned to my high school alma mater to coach the senior girls first team. I must say it was an enjoyable experience working with young and enthusiastic players.

My journey in leadership continued in 2018, when I captained the UCT ladies team and we finished fourth at the University Sports South Africa (USSA) tournament which was a huge achievement us. It also meant the UCT ladies team qualified for the Varsity Cup in 2019. I left all my love, sweat and tears on the court for UCT. 

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Lauren Fredericks grew as a player during her time at UCT. Pictures: THE BTO

My hoop journey led me to Gauteng, where the strong competition and culture is often revered. So, all I wanted was to experience playing basketball in that part of the world. Hence, when I graduated in 2018, I was thrilled to find out I was placed in Gauteng for my community service year. I had the pleasure to join the Jozi Nuggets basketball club and participated in many tournaments with them in 2019. The Nuggets provided me with a space to constantly learn and grow as a player, which I’ll always be grateful for.

Throughout my ball journey, I have been fortunate enough to be coached by skilled and supportive coaches. Coach Matt Skade was the toughest coach I have played for, while I was at UCT. I developed as a player in terms of basketball skill and leadership. My mother, a constant reassuring figure, often watched my ball games and provided the many needed pep talks after bad games. Another positive influence is Lungile Mtsweni. Her drive, passion, commitment to her faith and basketball always stayed with me. I remember watching her play in high school and saying to myself, I want to be just like her when I grow up.

Basketball for me has been a blessing and a privilege. It’s a platform that allows me to express myself authentically. It has been a privilege to learn and play with strong women who are mothers, doctors, engineers, academics, scientists and more. These women have taught me that there is no limit to what you can do on and off the court.

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Lauren Fredericks joined the Jozi Nuggets to get a feel of the competitive nature of Gauteng basketball.

Currently, I am pursuing my Master’s degree in Audiology at the University of Pretoria while practising as an audiologist in the public health sector. Basketball taught me teamwork. Thus, working in a hospital setting and a multi-disciplinary team came easy.

Basketball has a special place in my heart, but it has its major challenges. These challenges include the lack of a national ladies’ team and a professional league as well as the overall attitude towards women in basketball. We are neither seen nor treated as equals in the decisions that involve and affect us on and off the court. 

The state of women’s basketball in South Africa needs consistent support from all of us, and especially our male counterparts. 

The root of the problem is that there is no female representation in the decision-making and management of Basketball South Africa. What is needed is a women’s Basketball Association. Female representation is required for advocacy, to voice women’s issues and to empower young girls to continue playing basketball. The development of a National Women’s Basketball Association would ensure this happens. However, what we can do right now to contribute to change is take up space in conversations on basketball, and avail ourselves, as women, for positions in the committees that govern basketball in South Africa.



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