Fort Hare - Basketball Sinokholo Dyonase

The trials for the Eastern Cape Windbreakers women’s pro basketball team were a slam dunk for Fort Hare basketball stars Sinokholo Dyonase and Zothando Fosi, who were both named in the final 12.

The pair were included in an initial group of 17 players after last month’s trials. From these hopefuls, the squad to compete in this year’s Basketball National League were selected.

It will be Dyonase’s second taste of the big time after making the cut last year too. The 21-year-old is regarded as a post player whose height allows here to make an impact on attack and in defence.

Fosi, 22, is a point guard whose job is to dictate the pattern of play.

Fort Hare head coach Thembekile Blaai said Dyonase had a reputation for putting in the hard yards as she continually strived to improve her game.

“If there is no practice, or before practice starts, she has sessions with other girls to work on skills and this work ethic helped her shine in the trials.”

Fosi, according to Blaai a soft-spoken and shy person, was “very determined” and her skillset allowed her to control play on her side of the court.

She also worked hard to stay on top of what he described as an “ever-evolving” sport.

Fort Hare - Basketball Sinokholo Dyonase

University of Fort Hare basketball players Sinokholo Dyonase, left, and Zothando Fosi have been included in the Eastern Cape Windbreakers team to play in the Basketball National League this year. Photo: Supplied

A delighted Blaai said their selection was a coup for basketball at the university and in the region.

“It’s not always easy to get courts and equipment to provide for players in the Eastern Cape rural areas, so their selection is a boost for the sport in the area.”

He said the duo’s success proved that the university could be competitive against high-level opponents.

“The teams have achieved a lot over the years and every season we try to bring new players through the system,” he explained.

Dyonase is a good example of someone who has benefited. Last year was her first at tertiary level but through hard work and with the guidance of the coaching staff she was able to crack the pro ranks.

Fort Hare compete in the Nelson Mandela Bay Basketball Association league in Motherwell, where they finished runners-up in 2021.

Blaai said they would continue to work hard to develop the sport at the Alice institution and that the USSAs in July would be their big goal for the year.

Basketball is particularly popular among the Fort Hare students, who support matches in their droves. The club also enjoys considerable backing from the university’s sports department.