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Published: January 5th 2008
When I was a little kid I spent a lot of time playing in the dirt. I eventually had a backboard to shoot hoops, but it was on our gravel driveway; to this day I can make a basket like an ace but I dribble like my only fingers are left-hand thumbs- though not said to be ungrateful, Dad. I was able to make do up to a point, but I only really learned the game of basketball when I joined the junior high basketball team and had instruction and a flat surface.
The local basketball teams here are in a similar position as I was as a beginning basketball player. We have made-do with what we have, but have reached the point that to really improve the game, we need better equipment. For more than two years I have played basketball with the high school students. The original group consisted of ten guys who weren’t so hot on soccer, the most-played sport in this part of the world. I beat every member hands-down one-on-one. From this team of beginners, we have grown into nearly four teams- the varsity guys, those who initiated the team and now make me
work for a one-on-one win, the varsity girls who have played for a year, and two teams of beginners, one of girls and the other of boys. The girls’ teams are particularly noted as one of only two girls’ sports teams, the other being with handball and with fewer girls. We make do with the one coach shared between three schools, a couple of basketballs, and a dirt court with un-even backboards. We do pretty well with what we have, and have practice regularly twice a week as the school system permits, but we have reached the point where we want to be a team, and not kids playing in the dirt.
What we need most to really improve the game of basketball, and to show the population that soccer isn’t the only sport, is a regulation sized outdoor basketball court. The cement court will be built with an area large enough to contain basketball, handball, also known as netball, and volleyball dimensions. This court will advance the teams and youth in general in many ways:
1) We will be able to play during the rainy half of the year. A basketball bounces on packed dirt, but not on
2) As a team, the game will improve. The will to improve is already present, but with a court we will also have the means.
3) The public stadium with the concrete court will be available to any team’s use, particularly the third and newest teams directed by our coach. This team, having just begun, has even fewer resources than us. On this well-built court, we can host respectable tournaments, like the International Women’s Day Sports Tournament we are organizing for the 8th of March.
4) We will have a public place to play, where people come often to watch and play sports, thus we will gain credibility and support. We will also be able to eventually charge admission to games.
The varsity boy’s team leader presented the idea of building a court to me about a year ago, and with persistence we found an experienced architect and the necessary 25% of the total from the community. I am fundraising the remaining 75% via the Peace Corps Partnership Program and prominent Beninese from this town. Below is the link to the webpage for donations. I appreciate all you can contribute. Thank you!
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