Last Saturday, our four Leadership Development Programme (LDP) programs joined three area high schools to play six hours of pure basketball and, as part of PPI’s original credo, bridge divides with people outside the PPI organization. Black girls from rural areas joined hands with township Black and City White and Coloured girls, creating quite the rainbow nation within our two court, indoor facility.
Within the Kwa-Zulu Natal province, no high school league is established for high school girls. Some, though not many, high schools have teams, but no schedule is ever put down on paper and no champion is ever crowned. Recognizing the desire for more basketball instruction for girls within the area and a need to have our girls interact with players outside their team, we put the girls through hours of drills and scrimmages. We split the girls into guards and forwards and PPI-SA coaches put them through catch and swing, one two pull up jumpers, drop steps, hook shots, and some extreme agility workouts. By the afternoon, we split the girls into ten teams where they competed for the remaining several hours and put what they learned in the morning to test.
Basketball Manager Mtu Zulu, who led the post play in the morning, starting jumping up and down in excitement when he saw one of his post players executing a move the coaches had just taught hours ago.
“She ran down to the post at the block position, felt for her defender, recognized she was playing high, put up her left hand for a target, caught the ball, bounced with two hands as she dropped and sealed her defender and went up for an easy layup. It was amazing.”
At the beginning of the day, we sat the girls down on the baseline and said two rules must be abided by: 1) don’t leave the premises without telling a coach (safety first!) and 2), you must make a friend. If someone by the end of the day can name all the players within their group (all in all about 70 girls showed up thus each group of forwards and guards was about 20), then the winner will receive a brand new t-shirt, courtesy of donations from from friends and family in the US. Two girls were able to name their groups in entirety, plus the remaining 15 coaches who came and volunteered on the Saturday.
In just one day of activity, we strengthened girls basketball throughout Durban by bridging the vast divides between the players. Just one benefit of basketball, the sport transcends the language barrier (isiZulu and English, among others in SA). Our players were still able to learn, share, and play the sport with only the love for the sport as their common bond, and we hope to host more clinics and tournaments throughout the rest of the year, in hopes one day, our high school girls can compete in an established high school league, with our PPI progammes leading the way.