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A Glimpse of My African Basketball Career

One of the newer players, I am still having trouble with his name, came into practice today with 4 young girls and three young boys, all around 12-15 years of age, a big difference from the 16-20 year olds on the team. “Hey man. Are these friends, family, players?” I ask him as hopeful as possible. “Yeah coach, they are kids that I work with and I told them about the practices we are having. I thought it would be a great idea to bring them along to see if they enjoyed playing. I think it would be great for them and for the team.” He had brought them there because he felt the need to begin establishing a foundation for a younger Kayamandi basketball team. My job as a coach was brimming with optimism already.

This young man did not even realize it is my duty, and a goal of the team’s, to recruit young players in hopes of establishing a future for the Kayamandi Basketball Team. Many of the players have graduated high school and their schedules are becoming too crowded to make a long-term commitment to the team, thus it is critical for the continuity of the program to develop skills and dedication in younger players. The fact that this young man, whom I had once perceived as having a bad attitude, took this initiative upon himself really gave me hope for the future of this team and this organization. I knew at that moment that the task of recruiting a new generation of basketball-ers was underway. I embraced this new opportunity, doing my best to make the new players feel comfortable and at home.

As soon as practice began, the guys on the team helped the younger guys lead the stretches, cheering them on all the way. It was an awesome feeling to see the present and the future of the organization working together in a cohesive group. Next, the volunteer coaches really stepped up and worked with the younger kids on one side of the court while I worked with the older guys. At the end of the practice we ended with a head-to-head competition, a shooting competition. As soon as the competition began, the older guys began missing very simple shots. At first I was disappointed and got on their case, until I realized that they were doing it on purpose. Every time they missed a shot, the guys would clap, and every time they made it they would “Boo”. They were allowing the younger players to win the competition, and absolutely loving it all the way. I had never seen them come together so well, and enjoy themselves to such a genuine extent since the beginning of my coaching.

I was so happy that I just sat back and observed, taking in the moment, appreciating the natural way in which the guys actions symbolized an acceptance and welcoming of the new kids into our group. I thought to myself, life is beautiful, and your job as coach is what you are doing right now. I cannot express how that pride has filled in me, and how hopeful I am for the future of this team. I am so anxious to see what they will accomplish, how far I can watch them succeed. Blessed.