What Fort Hare point guard Zotando Fosi lacks in height she more than makes up for in skill and grit on the basketball court.
It’s little wonder then that the diminutive 22-year-old holds NBA star Kyrie Irving in such high regard. Like her, the Dallas Mavericks talisman punches above his size to devastating effect in the League.
“He is considered one of the shortest players in the NBA but he is so good. He’s my role model,” Fosi said.
Standing not so tall at 157cm, basketball would not be the first sport that comes to mind when eyeballing the student, currently in her first year of a Master’s degree in Human Movement Sciences.
But Fosi is living proof that dynamite comes in small packages. After being forced to go back to the drawing board twice, she was selected for the Eastern Cape Windbreakers pro outfit earlier this year.
As she failed in her first two attempts to make the final cut for the provincial squad, her call-up brought as much relief as it did joy. True to her nature, she never stopped believing that she belonged in the Basketball National League.
Fosi’s love affair with the game started after being mesmerised by it on television. Hero Irving immediately stood out and, when she reached St John’s College in Mthatha, she tried to emulate him on the court.
While not many learners played the sport and matches were few and far between, the bug had bitten and no one had to ask her twice to sign up for Fort Hare’s basketball programme when she walked through the gates for the first time.
“To this day I love playing at Fort Hare,” she said.
“I love the environment and my teammates. We are so connected compared to other sporting codes.
“Everyone says it’s one of the few sports where players are friendly to each other. We are a family there.”
Though catching everyone’s attention at her club, the road to the top was not a slam dunk by any stretch of the imagination. She made the final 15 twice before being told to try again the following season.
These disappointments were no match for her will to succeed.
“This year I was selected. I was like, ‘OK, finally I’ve made it’. I accept that there were things I had to go back to work on those two years.”
Fosi said the step up to the national league was a big one as the intensity was way higher than that dished out in regional basketball, but this helped improve her game.
“When I came back after playing my first game in the national league, I noticed my performance was different; I had improved. I feel at home in the national league now.”
Juggling studies and sport is no easy task and there have been occasions when her studies enjoyed priority, but most of the time she was able to balance her schedule.
The sport she adores is never far away.
“I love playing matches and when you have nothing to do, basketball keeps you busy.
“When people don’t play sports, they drink or go to bad places. But when you play basketball, you spend all your time playing.
“It also helps you forget your troubles if you’re having a bad day.”