Sidondi: I am a student of the game

FORMER University of Pretoria basketball player Litha Sidondi talks to The Big Tip Off about her experiences in the game and what she looks forward to when the sport resumes.

“I don’t think any of us are built for mediocrity, we are all built to LIVE”


BTO: When and where did you develop your love for basketball?
LS: Towards the end of primary school, I started paying more attention to the game, led by many elements. Movies like Coach Carter. My aunt, who played basketball at university. The late Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers solidified everything for me. And Diana Taurasi (I wanted to be as lethal as she is from the 3-point line).

BTO: Who are the role players that helped in your development as a player?
LS: My parents. They built us a hoop at home and that is how I developed my skills. They also bought me my first and only kicks. My high school coaches (coach Danny in grade 8 and coach Leak in grade 9) also played a role in my development. I had sessions with my brother and one of my good friends as well.

BTO: What are the strong points of your game?
LS: I can defend, shoot and dribble well.

Second Pic
Litha Sidondi in action for Tuks. Pictures: Supplied

BTO: What aspects of your game, do you feel need work?
LS: Confidence in my game as well as the aspects mentioned above because there’s always room to grow. Furthermore, I need to get physically stronger, so that I don’t get tossed around on the court.

BTO: How would you describe yourself as a basketball player?
LS: I am a student of the game. I am committed to helping my team in whichever way I can. I work hard. I am very tenacious and resilient. I am all about the team – in practice and games.

BTO: Do you remember your first basketball game? What was the experience like for you?
LS: I don’t remember too many details about it. I just remember getting the ball and taking a shot but I didn’t jump when I took that shot. At the time I had not yet distinguished which hand was the shooting hand and which was for balancing the ball. So the ball didn’t go in. I think we got the win, but I had a lot to work on.

BTO: Who is the toughest player you have faced on the court? And why?
LS: Whoever is the most confident in themselves at the time that I have to guard them. Because it is going to take a lot of effort to find out what their weak points are and take advantage of them.

BTO: Who is your favourite teammate? And why?
LS: I don’t have a favourite teammate. I just appreciate the commitment, presence in practice and games as well as effort.

BTO: Who in your opinion is the best player in South Africa? And why?
LS: I haven’t been keeping up with basketball here in South Africa to answer this question truthfully.

BTO: What has been the low point of your basketball career? And why?
LS: I left my first high school (Pretoria High School for Girls) for boarding school at the end of grade 9. Grade 10 was good for me in that I had kept the lessons I had learnt from my coaches, which resulted in me playing for under 16’s and 1st team at my new school (Wykeham Collegiate). However, the confidence I had in my game went down for various reasons. By the time I was in matric, the love I had for the game was in question. And that resulted in me taking a hiatus by the time I got to university.

BTO: What has been the highlight of your basketball career? And why?
LS: It was grade nine. I was playing my best basketball at that point. The team I was a part of just had an energy that pushed you as an individual to be better. I guess it was pressure, but the pressure is a privilege, to have somebody counting on you and you counting on them. Also, in that same year, I was part of the touring team that went to the Pietermaritzburg Girl’s High School basketball tournament. In matric, I got half colours for basketball at my boarding school even though I had only arrived in grade 10 as my testimonial says.

BTO: What have you missed about being away from the basketball court during the lockdown? And why?
LS: Just being able to shoot the ball. The hoop isn’t up anymore so I have not shot the ball in a long time.

BTO: How have you been keeping fit during the lockdown?
LS: Body weight workouts ranging from squats to push-ups and so on. Cardio workouts such as jump rope and running up and down the stairs here at home.

BTO: What are you looking forward to when basketball eventually resumes?
LS: Practice.

BTO: Do you remember your first basketball sneakers? And why?
LS: Yes, because they were Jordans.

BTO: What sneakers are you currently rocking?
LS: Those same Jordans.

BTO: What are your goals in basketball or an alternative career?
LS: In grade 7, on career day we had an opportunity to dress up for the careers we saw ourselves in. I showed up in a full Chris Paul Charlotte Hornets kit simply because I couldn’t get Diana Taurasi’s WNBA kit. I would love to play professionally, and even if I get called up in my 50’s, I’ll suit up.

BTO: Who is Litha off the basketball court?
LS: First and foremost, I am a born again Christian. I am a determined, driven, kind and empathetic young lady. I’m team-oriented and independent.

BTO: What are your hobbies?
LS: I love music, my taste is eclectic. I read (well that’s something I’m developing again). I hang out with friends when I can but I am just a homebody. I play NBA2K with my brother but don’t sleep on me with regards to FIFA, my family trained me up. I watch a lot of movies, I can watch the same movies over and over again as if I’m watching it for the first time so I’m extra talented. Lastly, I’m currently working on spending more time off of my phone.

BTO: What is your favourite sport or general life quote?
LS: ‘Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.’ – Denzel Washington

BTO: How would you like to be remembered as a person and a basketball player?
LS: I would like to be remembered as a player who had fun while playing the game she loved, and as a person who inspired others to live their lives to the fullest (through Jesus). I don’t think any of us are built for mediocrity, we are all built to LIVE.


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