For the past year, I’ve joined some of the boys from my school for pickup basketball on the concrete court at our school. Those boys make up the core of our school’s basketball team that competes against schools around this part of East Java.
Before I started playing with these guys, I had heard other volunteers talk about just how bad basketball was here: soccer, volleyball, or badminton—Indonesians kill it. But basketball just isn’t one of their natural sports.
I don’t know about the rest of Indonesia, but Ngoro, Jombang is a hotbed of basketball talent. Some of these kids are ballers (although the score doesn’t reflect it…they need to work on playing as a team).
Unfortunately, until last Friday, I hadn’t been able to see them play any games. This wasn’t due to a lack of interest, though. Usually one of the players would interrupt me teaching and the conversation would go like this:
Mr. Will: So, to make a sentence in passive voice, you take the subject and…
Player: Mr. Will! Will you come to our game tomorrow?
Mr. Will: …Uh, maybe. When is it?
Player: 9 am in [nearby city].
Mr. Will: But, we have class tomorrow at 9 am.
This semester, though, the schedule has improved and the games are in the evenings. Finally, last Friday I was able to get a ride to the game with one of my counterpart teachers. And it was awesome.
18 months of pent-up frustration over not watching live sports were released during the 40 minute game. I cheered loudly for my students, heckled the refs (they were reeealllly bad) and had an all-around great time.
The students were glad to have a new fan show up and they ended up winning by 5, after a tight game throughout.
One even took advantage of their victorious moment to ask me for an extension on his homework that was due at 7am the next morning.
This was my first game, but it won’t be my last. Next time, I’ll try to get better photos and maybe grab some video. Coach Cal might be interested in my scouting report.