I’ll show you how to shoot it.”
Basketball is taking off right now! On average we have about 10-12 people that show up. They’re picking it up rather quickly. It has nothing to do with my teaching, they’re just having fun. We started out by putting up the baskets; no lines for out of bounds, three points or anything like that. There were very few rules to enforce on them; just a ball, a lot of space and two (as close to regulation) backboards with the accompanying rims. I showed them a few of the basics like passing and layups, not knowing the terms in Spanish; but they got it.
After a few warm up drills, the ball was tossed up and they were going at it. Running from one end of the court with the ball snug in both hands like a pot full of boiling water ~whistle~ ”Viajando!” says Referee Evelyn. Lots of dribbling with both hands simultaneously ~whistle~”Dribleigh Doblei (acting out what they can’t do).” Running into each other like bats without sonar ~whistle~”Falta, No puedes hacer eso…” Evelyn really enjoyed being the super cop with her big, orange whistle; and she also didn’t know the terms or the signs hence ~whistle~”No puedes hacer eso”. Everyone that was playing was having a good time trying something new. Even the Mayor and High School Principal swung by.
The jugadores occasionally fell down and acted like they were really hurt, forgetting that this wasn’t soccer… But it was entertaining. And whenever there was a change of possession, they would touch the ball to the floor at the spot of the infraction before resuming play. Little by little we’ll introduce the rules more, but right now, they’re just Paraguayan Ballin’!
But speaking about Soccer, the mentality of the youth is defensive even when they are in possession of the ball. If someone has the ball, there are at least two or three of their teammates behind them. Instead of advancing the ball, they throw it backwards; there is no half court line yet. When they are on defense, they try to overuse their body resulting in a blatant foul; but we can’t call everything, or else they would never get to play. And whenever they are within 20 ft. of the basket, they are in a rush to shoot it. I think that this is because in soccer, you have very few opportunities to take a shot at the goal. I tried to explain to them that they have a lot more opportunities to score in this sport.
Back to the lines, we plan on putting down some yellow lines so that they can differentiate from the white soccer lines. But I like introducing them little by little. When we first started, they were running all over the place because there was no out of bounds; the court was wider than it was long. We recently put in side lines and baselines, drastically limiting their space, but they adjusted superbly! I’m hesitant to put down the three point lines right now because they are just going to launch line drives from there and eventually break the nimble backboard. They shoot the ball very, very hard. I think the next installation will be half court to teach them backcourt; no more being behind the ball Jóvenes!
One of our youth that’s been with our youth group since its iniciation, Pako, was amped up to play! He started up just like everyone else. But after the first day, he came back and told me, “Yo ví anoche un partido del NBA. Nuevo York Contra Boston.” Yeah, they have ESPN out here! He watched Playoff basketball and downloaded the information like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix. He came on the court, smiled, and started Paraguayan Ballin’, to the max! Pump fakes, spins(with an occasional travel), back pedaling like a pro! Hitting mid-range jump shots mixed with a few, stylish, air balls… executing the give and go and controlling his team. He even became such a go to guy, that when he had an off day, he said, “Hoy no es mi día…” Go ‘head Pako!
They’re getting ready for youth from the neighboring town to come and play a few games. The kids from the other town have had a basketball court for years now and are, somewhat, good. But the kids here have a quarter pro as their coach; maybe more of an eight pro? They should have a good time. And did I mention that the Referee is my wife? Wink, wink…
That’s all for basketball for this time in the Fall.
Now we need to prepare for our dance competition, we’ll let you know how it goes when we get a chance. Right now we’re going to self-invite ourselves for lunch to one the houses of a youth in our group; we want to spend quality time with them before we go.