Sporting experts applaud South Africa’s Cape Town Tigers for their performance in the 2022 Basketball Africa League after the debutants secured a spot in the top eight but lost in the quarterfinals to 2021 finalists, U.S. Monastir of Tunisia. For more on the Tigers performance, host of VOA’s Sonny Side of Sports, Sonny Young sat down with Relton Booysen, the Tigers head coach.
The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
Sonny: Coach Congratulations on your team making it to the quarterfinals. I know it ended in disappointment, but you are a relatively young team. Tell us your thoughts on the Tigers making it to the quarterfinals?
Booysen: It was a tough year and a half journey for us to get here. I am very proud of our achievements. Throughout that time, we have won the Cape Town Championship, the South African championship, the Zone 6 championship, we made it through the Elite 16, we went to the Nile Conference and now the last 8 playoffs. It’s an achievement. However, I’m a competitor and we could’ve played our own brand of basketball last night and won the game, but players decided to do their own thing instead of the game plan.
Sonny: The teams that advanced to the final four are all well established. Did the experience factor play a role in your loss?
Booysen: Definitely! Experience at playoffs level is a margin of error. Any small mistakes will leave an opportunity for well-established teams to capitalize on. These teams have also played a lot more competitive games and I think that matters. When you play more games, you can iron out what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong and build on that.
Sonny: In terms of building on this experience coach, what is next for the Tigers?
Booysen: We got an invite for the K54 in Paris next month, we are looking to go there, but first we must check the schedule back home to see if we have any local games in the Cape Town basketball league. If there are any scheduled games, we would rather stay and compete in Cape Town because we need to win that league to advance to the South African Championship.
Sonny: Have you seen any response either on social media or traditional media on Cape Town’s accomplishment reaching the quarterfinals?
Booysen: We got a lot of positive response from fans and clubs we compete against. They all congratulated us for representing South Africa and being the top eight out of 54 clubs in Africa, so thank you for the support from the Minister down to the clubs in South Africa, we really appreciate it. We will back next year to do better.
Sonny: From a sporting perspective, do you see more young African boys and girls picking up a basketball after seeing the games in Kigali, Senegal, and Egypt?
Booysen: The sport is growing in Cape Town. I can speak from experience. We get so many emails and WhatsApp’s from people saying I want to know how to play basketball and join the Tigers and I am sure other clubs are getting the same. The Basketball Africa league was televised on local channels in South Africa and that creates an opportunity for people to see basketball. It is normally soccer, cricket and rugby and I think this is going to make the sport grow more.
Sonny: Gender equity is a big issue for the Basketball Africa League. Can you make some general comments on females being on the courts as referees and other initiatives spearheaded by the Basketball Africa League?
Booysen: That is a good initiative. I spoke to coach Liz Mills before we left, it is good to have females in such positions. Young girls can see that you can also be a referee, I can also be a coach at the highest level in Africa. What women like coach Mills are doing for the sport and gender equality is amazing.I say continue what you are doing. You inspire a lot of people out there.