The Basketball Journey: University of Street-Ball

A Basketball Journey – University of Street Basketball

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The basketball journey for our little journeyman was filled not just with school, it has alot of learning from the streets as well. Our little journeyman (Clifford), played at the basketball court near his house more than anywhere else. It is till now, his holy ground. He would lie on it on days he feel lost, and recover from all that is around.

When he started playing ball at the court (BLK714), he made lots of friends, fellow basketball enthusiast. One of them became his childhood mate, and undoubtedly his best friend till now. He also met alot of gangsters and people who wanted to sway him to the gang. But there was plenty of gentleman who would teach and guide him. All of them play a big part in his perspective of basketball and value of life.

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There were times when the game at the courts will be interrupted by gang fights of like 20 over people. And everyone will have to dock behind the blocks or run back home. It was a frightful scene for a young 11 year old. Clifford never really felt comfortable with it, but he still made friends with those who would play basketball there.

Being a boy with immensely thick skin, Clifford always ask to join the older boys and adults in their 5 v 5 games. Most of the time, they are kind enough to allow it, but they would never, I mean never, pass the ball to him (Considering the age difference 11 v 30). The level of skill, ability and physical size are vastly different. Clifford learnt basketball the hard way on the streets. He got beat down alot by them. He had to earn his right to play with the rest. He had to play harder defense, just to be able to steal the ball. That is his only chance to touch the ball in the game, unless some really nice gentleman were to pass him the ball out of kindness. Clifford knew these, but he just love the challenge of competing with older boys.

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On a humid and hot Friday night, Clifford got the chance to play with a group of regular players at the court. There was a new guy who came that day. Clifford and the dude played in the same team. On one of the play, their team got the rebound, Clifford dash off ahead for a fast break. The dude threw a long pass. Clifford ran with all his might while eye-hawking at the ball, but the  dude just had a thunderous pass, it flew 4 metres away from where Clifford was. The dude, hurled a variety of vulgarities at Clifford, calling him slow and shit for not catching the ball. In our world now, that would probably receive stomp worthy news, but in those days they have to earn it. So Clifford put his head down, and was more determined to become better player. Challenge is what he felt.

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“Bang” Straight to the chest and groin. Clifford fell under the rim. Wincing in pain from the knock from the opposing player. He stood up, and much like the same boy who wanted to play so badly in his first real match, Clifford trudge back into the game, shrugging the pain off temporarily. Moments ago, Clifford had just defended the same opponent aggressively, as the way he knew, which apprently wasnt “right” on that court. The payback, was an elbow to the chest and knee to the groin, by a running 30 year old body laying up towards the rim. This lesson brought Clifford to tears when he walked back home after the games. He felt a deep sense of misery, like he was being bullied. He told his mum about the incident when he went back. Mummy being protective told Clifford, dont go play with them then, stick to playing with your peers and friends. Well, we need not tell you what was Clifford’s reply. Challenge accepted, he continued.

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Throughout the years playing in the streets, Clifford seen many friends went from being a talented star player to joining the gang, and abandoning their dream of basketball. He also saw how some average chap on the court stayed with the game for 20 years, being supported by those gentleman who Clifford call as Basketball Social Worker. Decent people who work in the market or in the factory, who loves the game as much as they hope to help kids stay off the gangs. These are the stories that will stay with Clifford through his journey in the game and in life.

The young boy time in the hood, was well spent. He truely attended the University of the Streets from those time, though not fully involve.

And in these episode, Clifford brought with him the kind of determination and positive attitude that will define his basketball game in secondary school and junior college.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bball Journey: Young Love for the Game

The Basketball Journey – Young Love for the Game

One bright sunny day on a Saturday afternoon, a young boy sat in front of the television and watched “SLAMDUNK” the animated series. A vigor and drive vibrated in him, he stood up and imitated the moves made by the players in the show. And the journey of basketball began……

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He started by getting his first ball, a spalding rubber ball. Low quality in other eyes, but a holy grail to him. He brought the ball to the basketball court below his block, and played everyday for the whole summer holidays. He love every minute of it. Clifford was his name.

Then this Clifford’s brother’s friends, who are school team level players, taught him some important tips on defensive stance and hard work. He took it in, and begin to practice at home by himself, watching videos and screening of NBA players workout. He went to watch tournament games at the stadium nearby with his dad. Clifford love for the game grew over time. He quit his original CCA (Co-Curricular Activity), and went full fledge into basketball club. In his first taste of a real match, in a friendly game against Pandan Primary School on National Day in 2003, he sprain three of his finger in the first 5sec of the game. (HAHAHAHAHAHA) But his love for the game, told him, its ok keep going. He played the remaining time of the game with 3 sprain finger, quietly hiding it from the coach and parents, because he wants to play on. And the journey of endurance began……

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For the remaining time in primary school, Clifford trained hard at home everyday, doing 100 crossover, 100 around the body, 100 pass to the wall in the small little balcony at home. He imagine and “played” basketball at home with tissue box and crushed paper. His will to play was relentless (But study he did, so mummy didnt have issue, except when he knocks over the alter items, which I guess Bodhisatva was pretty forgiving of him because of his will).

Then in the fall of 2003, the young boy experienced his first taste of defeat, the kind that brings people to tears. It was an inter-class competition. Being the one so passionate and involve in the game, and also a little bossy, Clifford told his team mates how to play, and asked them to come back to play defense. Being young and un-trained, his classmates walked back to defend. The young boy was left alone to play defense. He did his best, blocked shots and defended multiple position. The result, unsurprisingly, was a lost for them in the first round. Clifford walked off the court upset. He cried, because his teammates didnt want to listen to him, and he didnt know how to motivate them. He cried, because of the loss. It hit him very hard. He reflected. And the journey of failure began……

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The following year, Clifford had a chance to play in the inter-school tournament for the school basketball team. He got his first jersey of his life, the no.4. And that number stayed with him throughout his life. They won 2 and lost 3 games, and got kicked out in the first round. Clifford wasnt happy with the result and effort. He felt that he was not good enough, and so he started to train harder, learn better. The reflection became deeper. He started to think how the game is played as a coach and leader. And the journey of coaching began……

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The early years of basketball, brought the boy learning and meaning the classroom and other endeavours couldnt give. He love the game. And so he journey on with these elements into his next phase.