14/07/2024

St Benedict’s Honours the late Ephraim Mohlakane

St Benedict’s school has named six new basketball courts after the late Ephraim Mohlakane… a fitting tribute to the local sporting legend, mentor and coach

Nine months after breaking ground in June 2023, St Benedict’s College has proudly opened six state-of-the-art outdoor basketball courts at its Bedfordview campus. The substantial infrastructure investment into the school’s sporting facilities signifies a giant leap for basketball. The school sport has undergone a remarkable transformation over the last decade, experiencing a surge in popularity and a notable elevation in its calibre. The introduction of the new courts is expected to add further momentum to this upward growth trajectory.

The late Ephraim Mohlakane’s daugher, Naledi, with Fr Thabo Mothiba at the Basketball opening

Named after the late Special Olympics South Africa champion, sports influencer, leader, and the school’s basketball coach, the Ephraim Mohlakane Basketball Courts were officially opened by school chaplain, Fr Thabo Mothiba. The court’s blessing ceremony was attended by staff, parents, boys and alumni.

St Benedict’s Executive Head, Andre Oosthuisen, says, “We are exceptionally pleased to have been able to realise this long-term goal for our players. The courts will foster the development of future champions and enhance the pleasure of playing for everyone. With our new courts now open, eight matches can now be played at any given time and we have seating for 800 spectators. We look forward to hosting regular fixtures and tournaments and being at the centre of the sport’s development, not only in our immediate community, but the country as a whole.”

When you consider that the school only introduced basketball as an official sport in 1998 – it’s come a long way. From one team of 11 aspiring boys, St Benedict’s now boasts 40 teams, catering for approximately 440 players who more than hold their own in the IEB leagues.

Fr Thabo Mothiba with past pupil Any Au and College Head, Dave Jeffrey

Commenting on the decision to name the courts after the school’s much respected mentor and role model, Oosthuisen says the decision was an easy one and a fitting tribute to Ephraim’s legacy. “The courts will be a constant reminder of the values he embodied: passion, dedication, inclusivity and compassion. His impact both on and off the field was profound and his passion for the sport infectious. He has inspired countless young athletes to reach for their dreams. Ephraim encouraged everyone he met to be the best version of themselves. His name will serve as a source of inspiration for generations of St Benedict’s boys, reminding us of the extraordinary impact that one individual can have on the world.”

At the opening, Ephraim’s contributions to the sport were fully acknowledged. He represented South Africa with honour and distinction on numerous occasions often on a global stage; he was a true ambassador. His involvement in the Special Olympics, particularly in hockey and basketball, showcased his exceptional talent and determination. Not only did he excel as an athlete, but he also took on multiple coaching and leadership roles within many sporting bodies.

Looking back at the school’s basketball history – the sport was initiated at the behest of then Gr 10 pupils, John Paul Dalvit and Andy Au, who were both passionate about the discipline. At the outset, the first team was coached by Justine Renaut – a qualified netball coach. The first team went on to perform exceptionally well. As their matches became increasingly competitive, and the competition stronger, the school was compelled to employ its first official basketball coach, James Mtetwa.

Recalling these days, Renaut says that those first boys had to make big sacrifices because they played basketball in addition to their other summer sports. Their parents were also insistent that they could only play basketball on condition that their marks didn’t deteriorate. “They were a really inspirational group of boys who showed up for each other with great belief. I don’t think they realised at the time that they were laying such a strong foundation for what would follow.”

JP went on to captain the school’s first 1st basketball team in his matric year in 2000 and he was awarded a partial basketball scholarship to study in the States. Old boy Andy Au is still closely associated with the sport, as his son Jordan is an avid Gr 7 Bennies basketballer. Father and son took to the courts and were the first to shoot hoops at the opening ceremony. From diehard hoop-heads to those still mastering the art of dribbling and slam dunking – the on-court demonstration was a truly heart-warming moment. 

Miguel Pereira – St Benedict’s Head of Basketball

In closing Oosthuisen says, “We are firm believers that our facilities must meet the rising demand and reflect the growth and love of the discipline. Keeping this in mind, our new courts have been built for the boys of our school, all of whom draw inspiration from the legacy of giants like our late Coach Ephraim Mohlakane. We must also acknowledge the exceptional parents at our school who were instrumental in turning this vision into a reality; without their support none of this would have been achievable.”

• For more information on the school’s courts, go to www.stbenedicts.co.za or Facebook: @stbenedictscollegebedfordview.

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