I have to continually stretch to not feel the soreness in my calves. I have been playing basketball and volleyball at Nelson Mandela Bay University gymnasium since 9:30 this morning and we are now gearing up for the finals and a chance to win a Gold medal! I was invited by a friend I met last week at the bowling alley. He found out that I was American, assumed that I played basketball (he was correct) and invited me to the tournament at the local university. Most of the players in the tournament are part of the varsity team or from the University so they are all very athletic, however they do not have a firm grip on the tactics like an american would, growing up with the game. That knowledge would prove fruitful in the finals.
Going into halftime, we were done by six to the favorites of the tournament. We had been significantly outrebounded in the first half and knew we knew we weren't going to come back without a change. Shout out to the Jesus Freaks for training me well, we implemented the full court press which allowed me to be my usual self--running around like crazy chasing any man who happens to have the ball. The goal of the full court press is to frustrate the opponent which we executed to perfection. We ended up storming back and taking the game by seven points. The entire tournament was so much fun and I was glad to be able to run around on the court again.
After the game I got a chance to talk with "Coach" (an alias turned real name) who is a student, a coach of the varsity team, and a 31 year old businessman who is as sharp as a whip. He explained his vision for the basketball team and how to change the culture of the team from street ball to a more disciplined approach. All the while is trying to gain respect from the school and to be taken seriously. Basketball falls to the bottom of the list when it comes to funding at the school falling well below cricket, rugby, soccer, field hockey, and practically every other other sport. Along with coaching the team and looking to earn his degree, he gets the bills paid by working with another NGO in town, Umzingise or United Through Sport. As fun as the game was and getting my "fix" of basketball, these little conversations and encounters make my work here so special.
I finished the night off by going with a couple of newly made american friends to a fish and chips shop devouring a R50 meal ($6) and going over to a Cru girls house to play settlers and eat brownies and ice cream. If you asked me what a perfect day would be like, this one wouldn't have been far off.