Tuesday, 31 January 2012

LIFE OVERSEAS: Lessons from shooting hoops

THE school holidays were approaching and every student‘s imagination was rife with thoughts of the amazing things they would be experiencing.
Students were scribbling down ideas and asking friends which dates were available.
I had jotted down “Basketball Camp” in my journal.
Those who know me well would be flabbergasted because sport has always been last on my to-do list and I am extremely clumsy by nature.
Anything that requires brute strength or cat-like reflexes would not be my cup of tea.
So, why the sudden urge to be involved in basketball?
It is because I was not a participant, but a member of the organising team.
And since it involved children, it just reeled me in. The camp started on a Thursday morning.
I set out my small registration desk at the front of the school hall. Armed with pens and markers, I was ready to write the names of participants on the little stickers.
In small groups, the parents arrived with their children of different ages, ranging from 7 to 13. There were 19 participants.
At first, I was surprised at the small number of campers, but realised that the young ones needed more care.
Most of the children did not know me.  This prompted me to start a conversation with an 8-year-old.
What made it more difficult was I was the only helper without experience in basketball. The other trainers were shooting hoops, sprinting across the court while I stood and watched on the sidelines.
At first, I felt excluded as I did not have the chance to interact with the children in the way the other trainers did.
We held drills to focus on the skills needed in basketball.
Then I realised that I could get involved by being supportive.
I cheered the children on to do their best and gave them assurance and positive reinforcement.
Little did I realise that it would create such a difference in a child‘s life, so much so that I got hugs at the end of the game.
Later that day, we formed groups of five to discuss the qualities — other than skill — of basketball players.
We talked about the importance of good character as a team player.
To illustrate this, every child had to state three qualities each — both positive and negative — about their personality.
What amazed me was that every participant said that confidence was one of their best traits.
I openly admitted that I am lacking in confidence — one of the most challenging things that I had to face up to. Our mission next week was to work on our flaws.
On the last two days of camp, we played a game of Knockout — where the objective was to shoot balls into the hoop until there is a score.
Then, a challenge arose when one of the girls asked me to join them.
I shook my head, smiled and politely refused.
Then she said, “Come on, you have to believe in yourself, you can do this.”
My mind went blank for awhile, and I was amazed when I realised that this was a 9-year-old urging me with such faith.
I decided to take on the test.
As I walked towards the basketball hoop with ball in hand, I could hear the children in the background cheering me on.
I took a deep breath and tried to remember the tips I overheard the coaches telling the children, positioned my arms and shot the ball towards the hoop.
And... I scored!

The writer is studying at a high school in Ireland. She loves to try all things but is a Malaysian at heart.

Read more: LIFE OVERSEAS: Lessons from shooting hoops - Sunday Life & Times - New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/life-times/sunday-life-times/life-overseas-lessons-from-shooting-hoops-1.38515#ixzz1l3rSnrwl

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