Hangberg youngster on top of his (ball) game

Young Decklin Liebenberg has been dribbling through obstacles in his community in an attempt to score a better life for himself.

The 13-year-old basketball star from Hangberg, who has been offered three basketball scholarships to attend some of the top schools in Cape Town, continues to turn heads.

As these offers are still under discussion, however, Sentinel News is not able to disclose which schools are involved.

Decklin, who started playing basketball at the age of 9, has excelled not only on the basketball court, but in the classroom as well.

“I only want to do my best and I want to make something out of myself. I am excited and I love playing the game,” the rising Hout Bay Hurricanes star said.

In his short life, the
Grade 7 Sentinel Primary School pupil has suffered some significant setbacks, among them losing his mother Marilyn, to kidney failure almost six years ago and then another mother-figure, his grandmother, around four years ago.

His mother’s sister, Fiona Cloete, then took over the reins, welcoming Decklin and his three siblings into her two-bedroom Hangerg home.

“I take care of seven kids in my house – my three children with my sister’s four kids,” Ms Cloete said.

She described Decklin as well-mannered, disciplined and respectful of his elders.

“I never really had any problems with Decklin. He is excellent at everything he does and I always knew he was going to go very far,” she proudly said.

“I am very excited for him and I want him to go to these schools where he can learn more and enjoy himself. At the end of the day, it’s really up to Decklin and its our duty to just guide him in the right direction.”

His coach and community activist, Roscoe Jacobs, said they could not be more proud of Decklin.“The offer was made after the small 13-year-old point guard played in an under-16 and 18 boys Cape Town Basketball Association League (match) and took on players older and much bigger without fear and with ease,” Mr Jacobs said.

“He is a shy boy at first, but when one gets to know him you learn that he is a passionate, hardworking and intelligent young man,” said Mr Jacobs. “He is also someone who can be stubborn at times. He has leadership skills and is a prefect at his school.

“Decklin is a little overwhelmed which is expected, but I and many others have advised him to look at what is best for him and then decide. We will support whatever his decision is,” Mr Jacobs said.

Decklin was also part of the under-13 team that went out to play in the St Johns College Basketball Tournament in Johannesburg where his team ended in 10th
place overall. He also successfully completed and participated in a school holiday basketball camp which was hosted by American basketball players.

The offers might have come unexpectedly for everybody involved in Decklin’s life, but Mr Jacobs explained that it is their aim to showcase the many talent Hangberg has, among them Keya Clarke who went to the USA to play basketball.

“Our aim is to get them playing in games to show off their skills and for scouts and coaches to decide if they want to offer them an opportunity. We have been telling them that through basketball they can get such opportunities,” he said.

* The club has started a fundraising campaign to enable it to continue producing talented youth. To assist, visit the BackABuddy link: www.backabuddy.co.za/educating-a-nation-through-sport