Both of these superb triple threat stances belong to students of Collingwood Primary – a public school located in the undeserved and predominantly African suburb of Wentworth. PPI-SA is one of the few after school options available to students there. PPI-SA International Fellow Benjamin Constable talks life and basketball with two of Collingwood Primary School’s finest participants: Jade Shanice and Jordan Holtman.
No matter where I’ve coached, I tend to gravitate toward calling kids by one simple term – “clowns.” Sure the first time you lay the term on them, an odd facial expression arises. Probably suggesting something along the lines of:
Did that huge kiwi coach just insult me?
What was so clown-like about jump stops and triple threat?
Did I hear him correctly?
One athlete has even checked her face for face paint the first time she heard it.
However, those confused expressions always turn to smiles when they realize no-one is immune to the nick name. As the expression becomes cliche, eventually absorbed into the athletes identity within the context of the player coach relationship, kids even start calling me the sacred term – “Hi Coach you clown!”
I’d even make the bold suggestion that the term enables the athletes to learn. The learning environment becomes safer as athletes become less afraid to make mistakes. Why? Because, well, everyone’s now a clown, and all clowns do is make mistakes right? If you are going to credit clowns with something, they definitely aren’t afraid to try new things.
I must admit, while preparing to coach at Collingwood Primary School, it had crossed my mind whether this term would be appropriate:
Could clowns exist in circumstances like South African townships?
Would there be anything funny or rapport generating about calling kids who come from such hardships, “clowns”?
Well, like most rhetorical questions posted in this blog, the answer revolves around the same idea – of course, regardless of socioeconomic background, youth both grow and respond to mentor-ship in the same manner. To grow into happy, motivated created human beings it’s imperative that our youth are safely engaged by a diverse range of mentors. Whether it’s a hero like Mark Giles, PPI’s school rep and Collingwood teacher, or just some “clown” from PPI.
So, long story short, there’s a clown in all of us I guess. Here’s a quick conversation with two of my favorite “clowns” from Collingwood Primary School:
How long have you played basketball?
Jade: 8 months.
Jordan: 8 months, but 8 great months!
How long have you been part of PPI?
Jade: 8 months, so PPI is basketball pretty much.
Jordan: 8 months.
What is your favorite part of being a PeacePlayer?
Jade: I get to have fun and compete. It gives me a chance to play again teams that live in places I’ve never been.
Jordan: I get to play basketball. I love learning, especially how to shoot.
What have you learnt about being part of PPI-SA?
Jade: How to respect others, listen and learn, and how to be polite.
Jordan: That you must respect others for them to respect you. Respect your coach, team, everyone.
How has PPI helped you off the court?
Jade: My netball shooting has improved and I’ve learnt you have to listen first before you do something.
Jordan: How rules in basketball are really similar to rules in life.
What are your future goals/what do you want to do when you grow up?
Jade: An air hostess or archeologist.
Jordan: Soccer player or basketball coach.
Who is your favorite basketball player?
Jade: Coach Kyler (ouch Coach Ben)
Jordan: Michael JORDAN (obviously)