Dreams are achievable despite the odds

Ashanti is living proof that no matter your circumstances, dreams are always achievable.

Hout Bay’s very own Sheryl Swoopes has realised her goals and is well on her way to achieving them.

Swoopes, an American basketballer sometimes referred to as the “female Michael Jordan”, was the first
player to be signed in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

Hout Bay Snipers basketball star Ashanti Ketchem, 12, is living proof that no matter your circumstances, dreams are always achievable.

Despite getting many a day started without a proper meal in her stomach or having completed countless practices without basketball shoes, Ashanti puts one foot forward and polishes her skills in the parking lot in Imizamo Yethu.

“Basketball means everything to me. It opened the door for me to go to school and it also keeps me away from gang fighting, smoking and drinking,” she said. “I can see
myself playing for the NBA and
travelling around the world one
day.”

Ashanti, who started playing basketball at the tender age of 7, joined the Hout Bay Snipers when she was 9.

Coach Ronald Nengomasha led the team to victory when Ashanti’s under-12 team won the Cape Town Basketball Association Championship, where she took home the most valuable player award.

“Every morning I walk down to the parking, I unlock the portable hoops from the container and I start playing with my teammates,” she said to Sentinel News.

“I feel extremely proud because it’s really basketball that has changed a lot in her and she has become more responsible,” said her mom Virginia Ketchem. “She’s thinking
about basketball every minute of the day.”

Five years ago, Ashanti would not have imagined the possibility of a career in basketball. She was unable to attend school due to lack of transport and instead, spent her days at home, running errands for neighbours.

When Hout Bay Snipers’ treasurer Christoph Baeumer found out about her circumstance, he helped to enrol her at Sentinel Primary School, which she attends today.

“Ashanti is a valuable player in our team. In December last year, she was one of four players who were chosen to be part of an All Star team,” he explained. “She is very aspiring, even when we didn’t have a girls team, she would be at the gym practising with the boys.

“We have had much love and support from the Hout Bay community, however, our biggest dream as a club is to have our own basketball court as we are currently practising at a parking lot and it becomes more
and more difficult to practise when there are cars parked,” said Mr Baeumer. “It will be even more busy when the skate board park is
done.”

Ashanti can be found practising with her team every Monday to Friday at the parking lot opposite Hout Bay police station.

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