By Matṧeliso Phulane
Sekhoane James Kolane intends to nourish the youth’s skills through his newly founded basketball academy that aims to boost the sport game which seems to have declined in the country.
“The Hangar Youth Basketball Academy (HYBA) was founded to assist youth in Lesotho to improve their basketball skills and to promote the sport through a variety of programmes geared towards basketball growth, education and leadership to ensure the future of basketball in the country.
“HYBA was launched in October 2022 against the backdrop of the Youth Games that were held in the country. Following Lesotho’s dismal performance in said games, my peers and I were saddened to see how far basketball had fallen in the country and felt we should be the change we wish to see by pioneering this initiative,” Kolane said.
In a recent interview with theReporter, he said the idea to start the academy was conceived while he was in Shanghai as an intern at Nike Basketball Shanghai, where he worked as a basketball liaison working with international superstars like Kobe Bryant and Lebron James when they held their basketball camps under that brand.
Kolane said classes are held every Saturday at Maseru Club ports grounds where he currently teaches with two former players Motloli Mothepu and Seeiso Majara.
“Our ultimate objective is to develop the first group of players, ensuring that they have grown up and developed in a coordinated and extensive basketball system together from grassroots level to professional level and ultimately get selected to the national team.
“The second objective is to construct and operate our own public-accessible indoor court, which will enable our youth to participate in our programme all year-round, regardless of weather conditions. As a result, they will be able to develop globally at a faster rate.
“In addition, the indoor court will accommodate both high school and professional leagues during inclement weather. Lastly, HYBA hopes to develop the sport nation-wide by employing former players and retired coaches in accordance with our ethos and instruction manuals,” he expressed.
The founder said he was first exposed to basketball though watching it on television and as a result he was then fortunate enough to pick up basketball in what he considered to be the pinnacle of the sport in the country.
As a rookie, he was mentored by Monyane Thaanyane, Matlatsa Nteso, Phakoa Moiloa, and Tlaitlai Mojaki and others and thus he was able to flourish and win multiple leagues and personal awards.
Furthermore, he stated that HYBA is an organization for boys and girls with or without basketball experience, adding they require students ranging from age six to 22. The classes are divided by age group which is six to ten, 11 to 16, and 17 to 22.
“HYBA has also also from its inception intended to give back to the community by hosting basketball clinics for the less fortunate, be they individuals or local schools with the assistance of sponsors. However, we have found sponsorship extremely difficult to find and secure,” he highlighted
Kolane is a Maseru West native who was raised in Hills View in Maseru district. His family then moved to the United States in 1989 where he attended the United Nations International School. He then returned to Lesotho in 1994 and attended his primary level at Katleho Primary School and further went to Lesotho High School before receiving a scholarship to Shanghai University in China.
Speaking of the challenges he observed a few opportunities exist in Lesotho for public and private investment in the construction and maintenance of community sports centres and basketball courts.
Consequently, there is a lack of social infrastructure for youth to participate in more positive and safe activities in most of their communities. Apart from that, long-term sustainable youth programmes have been limited and have not benefited a diverse group of the youth.
“In rural areas, basketball participation among Lesotho’s youth is arguably non-existent. Yet, basketball has a global fan base of nearly one billion people and is the second most popular sport after football.
“That being the case, HYBA intends to bridge this gap with the assistance of contributors and restore basketball to a competitive level in Lesotho,” he concluded
Classes at the HYBA are priced at M350 per child per month, which covers the cost of equipment that include shirts, sports bibs, and basketballs. It will also cover the rental fee for the venue.
For more information, those interested can contact him at: +266-59352256