SHEFFIELD (Julio Chitunda’s African Message) - Egypt’s Soraia Deghady has ranked among the best point guards at AfroBasket Women 2015 held in Yaounde, Cameroon, but she is hungry for more success in months, years to come.
Almost a month after helping Egypt reach the Quarter-Finals in Yaounde, the 20-year-old point guard, who plays for Cairo-based club Shooting, was named the Most Valuable Player at Arab Clubs championship in Cairo, Egypt.
And, having watched Egypt women’s national evolve in the last two editions of the African Championships, I couldn’t agree more with Deghady.
Egypt appeared in Yaounde with the youngest team in the tournament - averaging 20 years of age - but the age factor hasn't prevented them from raising eyebrows, with the likes of Menatalla Awad, Sara Masoud and Reem Osama carrying the team to the eighth-place finish in the competition.
After building her name by herself with Egypt junior teams, Deghady sat out the AfroBasket 2013 Women due to an injury, but when head coach Tark El Kattan selected her for the Cameroon 2015 showdown, she made sure to live up to her expectations.
And, coming off the bench for most of the tournament with averages of more than nine points and and 2.5 assists per game was just the beginning her dream to stardom.
"We did not win the championship but we have learned valuable lessons from the tournament," she told me.
"Unfortunately we fell short to reach the Semi-Finals, but we proved we are talented and can compete hard. Personally I feel that I have improved my game," she noted.
Although Egypt were denied a place in the Semi-Finals by hosts Cameroon, my impression was that Egypt have become a real giant in the making in the Africa women’s basketball.
And, if one asks 1.70m guard Deghady - an Accountancy and Business student - about her views on future of women’s basketball in the country, she envisages success.
Egypt have hosted a number of youth tournaments in recent years, but they are yet to host Africa’s women flagship basketball tournament. If that happens, Deghady feels it would be a turning point in the history of the game in the North African country.
Hosting the AfroBasket Women in Egypt would boost women’s basketball in the country - Deghady
"But we would need to work a lot harder," she said.
"AfroBasket [Women] is a tough competition because teams like Nigeria, Senegal and Angola tend to bring professional and good players," she recalled.
Egypt cause the biggest upset in Yaounde by ending former African champions Angola’s 18-game winning streak.
Although that was one of the highest moments in the history of Egypt’s women basketball, Deghady feels that facing more experienced players improves her game too.
As for her basketball career, Deghady believes that better days are yet to come.
The more I work on my game, the more I believe I’ll get a chance to play professionally overseas. Of course I have to improve some aspects of my game - Deghady
When she says that a couple of years ago, she got scholarship offers from US colleges as well as offers to play in Spain, but she couldn’t leave her family, I feel the doors to her basketball stardom remain very much open.