Written by H4H Volunteer, Caitlin M. McConville
On Monday, April 25th, they hopped off the bus and walked into the gym with about a hundred kids from local schools trailing at their feet. The 1 Dream Foundation Team has been busy tearing up the basketball courts around the world and teaching disadvantaged children the sport since April 21st and had just made a stop in Cape Town.
The 1 Dream Foundation, centered in California, brings both students from disadvantaged backgrounds to the US to gain access to a better education and sends its volunteers out to connect with the children one-on-one, by using basketball as a common ground. They had just conducted a basketball clinic in Dubai and hopped right on the plane for South Africa.
Tom Mott and his team of twelve volunteers landed in Cape Town on Saturday, ready to team up with Hoops 4 Hope on the holiday to share their love of basketball and the benefits it brings to the children of Crossroads and Nyanga. The 1 Dream Foundation has partnered with Hoops 4 Hope for the last 4 years to bring basketball to the kids, and this year was another exceptional show.
There were over 180 participants who attended the clinic and game, ranging from 5 to 17 years old. Also in attendance were five under-16 South African national players, who had just returned from the Angola tournament. Together with the MVPs from Hoops 4 Hope, the 1 Dream volunteers led the participants in different coaching stations teaching them the fundamentals of basketball like dribbling, passing, and shooting.
The clinic was a huge success. Participants who had never played basketball before were being taught the game by highly enthusiastic and qualified volunteers. The children learned basketball together with song and dance and each of them participated with smiles from ear to ear.
At 4 o’clock, Jason Basedesn donated red and white Raiders jerseys to the township club team “Gugulethu Hustlers” who is under the Hoops 4 Hope program. The team looked great as they warmed up in their new uniforms, ready to take on the 1 Dream Foundation Team.
The gym was far from quiet when the game began. Half the crowd of school children cheered for the Hoops 4 Hope squad, while the other half chanted for the 1 Dream team. It was an amazing sight; people of all different ages, backgrounds, and races united under basketball. It didn’t matter who you were, if you were in the gym, you were cheering for one team or the other.
In the end, the 1 Dream Team came out victorious but not without a strong fight from Hoops 4 Hope youth. However, the results of the game were not what mattered and everybody knew it. After speaking to a player from the 1 Dream, he told me how he felt the day was so much more than who won and who lost. “Today was the best day of my life,” said the 28 year old gym teacher from California who considers himself “very lucky” to have been able to play a part in the day’s events. He said the day will stay with him forever, and he hopes to return every year for the event.
The day was a huge success and Hoops 4 Hope wishes to send its sincerest gratitude to all those who helped make the event possible and to those who participated. Holiday programs like these reach out to children in the communities, keep them engaged, and make them realize that basketball isn’t just a sport.