Written by H4H Volunteer, Caitlin M. McConville
On Wednesday April 20th, Hoops 4 Hope South Africa was proud to host a special guest from Belgium. Jason Baseden and Katie Mensching visited the organization with much more to offer than just their smiling faces and charming presence.
Jason is the head of the sports department (athletic director) at the International School of Brussels in Belgium and a long-time friend of Hoops 4 Hope. Jason visited the organization in the early stages of its development 10 years ago and has been looking for ways to contribute to Hoops 4 Hope’s growth ever since. Jason’s ambitions led him to host a basketball competition which was about so much more than the sport itself.
Earlier this year, Jason organized a basketball tournament hosted at Brussels University, where the only admission fee was a donation. Titled the “Hoops 4 Hope” tournament, the profits went straight to the Rainbow Center in Gugulethu, and they came in by the boxes. Four international schools attended the basketball tournament and each one brought jerseys hoping to make a difference for youth sports teams in Africa. Jason Basedesn and his teams gathered a generous gift of over 150 sports jerseys to be sent to the Cape Town communities. The jerseys are able to clothe several basketball and soccer teams in both school and club groups.
On Wednesday, Jason Baseden and Katie Mensching visited local schools with the Hoops 4 Hope management to personally give the jerseys to the participants. Jason wants to be able to return to Belgium with a firsthand narration of the positive difference these donations made.
The first stop was Hlengisa Primary School in Nyanga where class was still in session. Jason, Katie, and Thabo met with the principal and a tremendously appreciative school sportsmaster. Seventeen girls from a club team under Soccer 4 Hope operating through the school, were taken from their classes and gathered in a classroom waiting to see what these fresh new faces had in store for them. Jason explained his story to the eager soccer girls and suited them up in red and white International School of Amsterdam soccer uniforms. Sweetly spoken “thank yous” filled the room, hugs were exchanged, and the group was off to Sigcawu Primary School to present a gift to yet another team.
At Sigcawu Primary, the group met with the sportsmaster who was eager to round up the basketball and soccer teams for this exciting event. The jerseys were given out and the sportsmaster expressed his sincere gratitude. He told us how much it means to the kids and the staff alike to have such support from organizations like Hoops 4 Hope. “People like you,” he told us, “help keep us going.”
The group exchanged hugs and handshakes and jetted to Mzamomhle Primary School to get there before the students left for the holiday. Jason and Katie met over 30 smiling faces on the outside basketball court which was built by Hoops 4 Hope in 2009. The clouds finally cleared the sky and the sun shone down on the basketball and soccer teams making for some great pictures. The student-athletes even sang a song of appreciation that will be shared with the donators upon Jason and Katie’s return.
Later in the week, Jason will give more jerseys to Hoops 4 Hope’s Hustlers squad coming from Gugulethu township, CNP Thunder, and other local community teams.
Jason and the international School of Brussells drive have clothed several basketball and soccer teams from local club and school teams in Nyanga, Crossroads, Guguletu, and Philippi communities. He will return to Belgium sharing his experience and gratitude with the teams who donated the jerseys at the Hoops 4 Hope tournament earlier this year. Because of the success of this year’s tournament and being able to experience its results firsthand, Jason is determined to make the visit and donations an annual contribution.
It is the generous gifts from people like Jason and his comrades that keep Hoops 4 Hope going strong and support the organization’s ever-lasting progress. Hoops 4 Hope would like to send its sincerest gratitude to all those involved with these charitable donations and this successful event and is looking forward to a continual relationship with Jason and the international schools of Brussell.