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Hoops in Johannesburg: A Story of Hope and Struggle

Willy Raedy discusses the potential transformation basketball brings to Johannesburg, South Affrica.

Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Blazer's Edge's own Willy Raedy penned an extensive article for Hardwood Paroxysm about the state of basketball in evolving Johannesburg, South Africa.

Think about all the people that make a living off basketball. The countless high school coaches, sponsored AAU programs, college staff, medical professionals and trainers, journalists, websites, marketing agencies, apparel companies, agents, and TV producers, all the way up to the NBA players and front office executives themselves. In this country, if you want to stay connected to the game, the opportunities are about as big as your work ethic. It couldn't be more different in Johannesburg.

"Right now, there's nothing," says Andries [Mkhatshwa, local high school coach].

He's one of the fortunate ones, able to coach at a private school with the resources for a full-blown team. But there are only a handful of those schools in the entire country and almost nothing outside the major cities. A few college programs dot the map as well but the options are severely limited. For players, there are provincial tournaments and many local leagues but few of these pay anything at all. There are currently efforts to revitalize the national league but these have failed in the past and the league has failed to pay a living wage even when active.

But the sport is growing. It's one of the most popular among youth and the national league represents an important step in the right direction. Unfortunately, like many things in South Africa, there are important questions about how the sport is growing and for whom.

The article is definitely worth a read.