Liam Hayward in a TuksBasketball player and a third year BCom Investment Management student at UP. Hayward recently captained his team at the 2021 USSA Basketball Men’s Championships, and spoke to PDBY about his basketball journey.

How did you get into basketball?

I went to a small primary school so there wasn’t much sport there. However, in high school there were a couple of sports. Initially I tried rowing but I really didn’t enjoy it. Because of my height I thought it made sense to try basketball and after that I never looked back.

What is your favourite thing about basketball?

I think basketball is the most entertaining and intense sport. It’s [a] really fast-paced sport with a lot of scoring on both sides – I really like that.

Did you play basketball during the initial stages of the pandemic?

No. From when the COVID-19 pandemic started in March, 2020 through to the end of 2020 – I didn’t play much.

How did you cope with that?

I didn’t like it at all. I eventually got a hoop to throw some shots and practice at home – just to stay active, but it never replaced being with people and actually playing.

You captained the Tuks team at the recent SA University Basketball championships. How do you feel about your performance and the performance of the team?

We achieved the most important thing – getting into [the] Top 8. That qualifies us for next year’s Varsity Cup. I think that’s a great achievement as well considering our team was filled with mostly first years playing in their first ever University tournament. We were at a huge disadvantage in terms of experience but the boys pulled through. With my individual performance I was quite satisfied. With the team there were mistakes due to inexperience but that’s something we’ll be working on.

What are your goals for the future in basketball?

For next year I’m gunning to make the University Sports South Africa (USSA) National team, I’m really serious about that. On top of that it would be great if I could lead the Tuks-UP basketball team to a USSA win and some trophies.

What is the state of Basketball in South Africa?

From the point of view of funding in the sport it’s not great. But things are getting better. The Cape Town Tigers are a team that’s setting the pace for basketball in South Africa. They are showing the world that we can play Basketball in South Africa.

Would you want to play for the Cape Town Tigers in the future?

Yes definitely. If not internationally I’d be happy to go there and try out.

What advice would you give aspiring players of the game?

I’d say they should just believe in themselves. Starting out I didn’t have much coordination but I just stuck with it, playing and practicing every day and through hard work I got better and better.

What would your five player all-star team look like?

Point Guard: Stephen Curry
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant
Small Forward: Michael Jordon
Power Forward: Lebron James
Centre: Shaquille O’Neal

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An introvert with a myriad of interests, from sports to entertainment to social issues. My name is Mfundo Masiya. Oh, I’m also a chess player 😉