They’re the latest of SA’s bright young sports stars to be snatched up by an overseas club and hopes are high they’ll be taking their careers to new heights. Roderick Fredericks (26) and Nabihl Liebenberg (21) from Paarl in the Western Cape are thrilled to be making their way to Texas, USA, after signing with professional basketball team Purple Jags.
“I’m really excited to have this opportunity,” Nabihl says.
Nabihl, who started playing basketball when he was only 10 years old, was scouted by the Purple Jags after playing at the Basketball National League (BNL) in the Northern Cape last year.
He admits he wasn’t ready for the big leagues then, but now he’s made the cut after putting in extra effort. “I went to practice two hours earlier to train harder,” he tells YOU. “It’s not about competing with anyone but competing with yourself – I want to become a better player than I was a year ago.”
Nabihl and Roderick, who both play for the local Spartans Basketball Club, live just a couple of doors away from each other. They’re as close as two licks of paint and even share the same birthday.
“He’s like an older brother to me,” Nabihl says. Roderick, who has been playing basketball for seven years, was headhunted by the Jags after Nabihl shared clips of his bestie playing ball. “They asked for my details and got in touch with me. They also wanted to see more videos of me playing and the rest is history,” Roderick says.
The young man was introduced to the sport by a cousin. Though Roderick tried his hand at cricket and rugby, basketball has always been his first choice. “It’s my entire life,” he says. “When I’m on the court, I feel free. It’s more than just a sport, it’s a haven and an escape.”
Being able to live his dream as a professional athlete goes beyond fulfilling his career goals, he adds. “It’s about setting an example in my community, to my peers, to remind them it is possible.”
Nabihl and Roderick are delighted to start a new journey together. They leave for Texas in July where they will participate in America’s M3BA league.
They’ve also been accepted at the University of Houston-Victoria where Nabihl plans to study business while Roderick studies sports management. “This opportunity means the world to the both of us,” Roderick says.
“So many youngsters are falling into a life of crime and gangsterism – maybe our story can serve as hope and inspiration.”