From humble beginnings to playing basketball on an international stage, Lutho Skweyiya has broken through all boundaries in his ascension to the pinnacle of university sport: the FISU World University Games.
Skweyiya, who is currently completing his postgraduate advanced diploma in sustainable development at Stellenbosch University, was also recently awarded the Sportsman of the Year 2023. Maties men’s basketball Head Coach Masie Ntlali, recalls in fondness when he first recognized Skweyiya’s talent on the court.
“I monitored his progress at school, provincial and junior national team level. When he arrived here at Maties in 2019, he had to adjust to the physicality of the game and be able to navigate his way through the bigger opponents. We had to work on his confidence, speed, strength and power to complement his basketball IQ for him to be able to compete at a senior level,” Ntlali explained.
Skweyiya recollects his difficulty playing soccer during his primary school days, but it was this setback that motivated him to strive in another sport that more suited his capabilities. “For as long as I can remember, I have always been competitive. There was a basketball court at my school and I signed up for the basketball team. When I finally had an opportunity to play a match, I already had a feel for the game and everything was just natural. I never bothered trying any other sport because I knew this was it,” expressed the 23-year-old.
His coach who has known him for close to ten years attests that he is a remarkable player with even greater leadership qualities, Ntlali said: “Lutho is a great athlete, one of the best if not the best point guard in the country at university level. To me, he is the complete athlete; I am saying this because it is seldom to get an athlete at his height with a big heart – someone who knows how to use his strength to his advantage. He understands his roles both on offense and defence and is able to control the game.”
Testament to Coach Ntlali’s words, Skweyiya owes his success and call up to the national side to his teammates. “It’s very validating, I really wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for my teammates. They always place me in a position to be successful, being granted the opportunity to join a national team and have the challenge to compete in a high-level environment is a privilege. I have learnt to always be a student of the game and having a growth mentality allows me to learn something new every day,” said Skweyiya.
A highlight for the point guard is having recently played for South Africa at the Chengdu FISU World University Games China. “World University Games are his Olympic moment. What else can a student/coach ask for. I am proud of him and how he led us as a team,” remarked Coach Ntlali.
Skweyiya continuingly perfects his craft by aiming to be the best point guard in Africa but none of this would be possible without the inspiration of his parents who have also overcome their own adversities. “My parents inspire my work ethic to continuously strive for my goals. Making them proud is such a privilege and an amazing feeling. They always support me regardless of what I do, and that unconditional love never allows me to drop my head but to keep pushing forward regardless of the circumstances,” he concluded.