Mothiba goes above and beyond to share knowledge

SCHOOLS may have closed for the Easter break, and whilst pupils will have taken a break from academics, the doors of learning have been kept open on the basketball court.

Kids who aspire to have the shooting accuracy and quick handles of Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry, the passing vision of Houston Rockets floor general Chris Paul or whichever NBA star they want to emulate, had the opportunity of being how the best in the business do it.

Decorated South African basketball player and sports director at the St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls, Neo Mothiba, and his team of experienced basketball coaches, have through the non-profit organisation Beyond The Arc used the game of basketball as a way of giving back to the young boys and girls of their communities.

“I didn’t invent basketball, somebody taught me basketball so it would be selfish of me not to do the same and give back to the community,” Mothiba who credited his mother for his sense of community. “From home my mother has always been involved in the community through sports as well. So I think it’s only a vehicle for me to basically impact as many people as I can.”

Neo Mothiba gives a few pointers to the young boys. Pictures: The BTO

Mothiba, who has represented South Africa at the international level in continental competition and the Commonwealth Games, elaborated on how Beyond The Arc came to life stating that there was a need for an initiative that would help to build and expand the minds of children, especially African children, who have not benefited from exposure to many opportunities in life.

“Beyond The Arc came from seeing a lack of activity in our kids. We are not all gifted the same, we are not all going to be sports people, but we need to channel the inner black child, where he or she can do whatever they want, notwithstanding not having the opportunity to do that. And that’s where Beyond The Arc Consulting and Beyond The Arc Foundation came from,” said Mothiba, who hails from Soshanguve.

The former Tshwane Suns captain lamented the state of things in some of the townships that they come from, citing the lack of activity among todays younger generation.

“We want to impact the communities that are close to us. Most of us came from e loction, when we go back there we see how much the situation has deteriorated; it’s not like when we grew up: when we grew up there was a lot of activity. Nowadays the kids have got nothing else to do. They don’t have a vision, they don’t have a clear path on where they need to go, so hopefully we can help them in that regard,” said Mothiba, who gave his opinion on what led to things being in the current state that they are in.

“When communities stopped having clubs and sports started being concentrated in schools, that’s where we kind of lost it, because not all schools have sports and now – without any clubs – it’s one of those things where we need to understand that anything that is community-based is sustainable, because when these kids get back home from school where there is nothing happening, we need to make sure that we bridge that gap by starting an after – school system where the kids can go and do whatever they want in a protected space. Where they can brainstorm and be successful and that’s where we want to get to, where we become enablers that help these kids to flourish,” said the 34-year-old Mothiba.

Welcome Mokoena shows attendees some training drills.

While the project is driven by individuals who are passionate about basketball, they want to broaden the scope to include other sports and also the Arts and Culture.

“Obviously we want to partner up with many facets in terms of our perceived future, we want to offer every kid an opportunity to participate, but basketball is just an obvious choice because the directors are basketball enthusiasts. But we want to cater for culture for example; gumboot dancing or kids that want to play chess, just to make sure between that downtime from 2-5 the kids are doing something worthwhile,” said Mothiba, a two-time BNL champion with the Suns.

Mothiba was also impressed with the response of the kids who came through for Thursday’s inaugural camp at Pretoria Boys’ High School and affirmed that it will improve certain aspects of their lives.

“These kids are enthusiastic and they are excited to be here and you can see they are soaking in as much as they can basketball wise. With me, basketball has taught me so many things outside of the game: persistence, teamwork and hard work, and to be able to carry that into life as well. You can see from watching what these kids are doing on the court that the work ethic and discipline has been developed and instilled. We are hoping that programmes like these will instil the basketball aspect but also the lifestyle aspect of it as well,” said Mothiba.

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