Why BasketballBy: Sneha Galani
Basketball teaches one how to be a team player— it is a social sport. We know that there is a relatively large population of India that does not have access to resources that allows them to play basketball when they please. However, what most people do not know is that the kids that are given the opportunity to play with Hi5 Youth Foundation in India, are also required to go to school. Why does that matter? In my opinion, this encourages kids not only to play basketball, but to do well in school as well. Being someone that goes to one of the high-end international schools in Mumbai, I can say that I deeply care about Hi5’s goals. One of their philosophies that stood out to me was: ‘Helping children learning important life-skills through the game’.
A while ago, I was watching the final game of the SAISA Boys Basketball League. I will never be able to forget my peers sitting on the edge of their seats, hoping that our team would score. I will never forget how much I wanted our team to score. Watching the sport too, is a whole different experience. Seeing the way that the ASB Eagles played that night (as if it were a life or death situation), I felt a part of something big! The look on their faces when our team won that game amazed me; before that, I had never realised how important basketball was to them. I had never realised how important teamwork was. That night passed by, but the feeling it inspired never went away. I, myself, began taking an interest in the sport, and reaching out to my coaches and mentors for support and guidance. I was eager to learn the game, and to try out for my school team. Not too long ago, I tried out for The South Asian Interscholastic Association Girls Basketball League. For me, being chosen to be 1 out of the 10 girls that were chosen from a try-out pool of 30 seemed near impossible.
Through the American School of Bombay, I have been fortunate enough to be given countless opportunities to play and travel for a number of sports. These are opportunities that, sadly, a large number of children in India do not get. When I was told that I was chosen to be on the travel team, it meant the world to me. I can only imagine what the underprivileged kids feel when they step onto the court every day. I felt honoured to play with the girls on my team, and to build new relationships with my teammates and coaches. That sports season was extremely rewarding. I can now say that basketball is hope, and determination. It is home.
Now — after working with Hi5 Youth Foundation India — I’m able to realise how fortunate I was to even be on that court. The 2100 kids at Hi5 Youth Foundation work extremely hard to be where they are; juggling school work and basketball practice simultaneously. They are hardworking, determined, and willing to do it all. The training that they undergo is draining, and difficult, but the sport itself gives them tremendous joy.
Managing the communications side of the organisation in the social impact sector, my mentor here – Gurpreet Somal – is committed to highlighting the best of Hi5 Youth Foundation and letting the world know that the work being done for underprivileged children is significant. Not only that, there is much more that happens behind the scenes
that most people aren’t aware of. Seeing the hard work that goes into ensuring the successful execution of events and obtaining more exposure for the foundation is an eye opener. Hi5 Youth Foundation believes in revolutionizing the state of basketball in India at a grassroots level. They aim to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged by providing necessary infrastructure to teach them how to play and excel at basketball. However, I’ve realised that the Hi5 program isn’t just about teaching them basketball – it’s about helping these children improve their life-skills throughout the sport, developing determination and grit, and respecting one another — despite their gender or religion.
Another fact I’ve realised in my two weeks here at the Hi5 Youth Foundation office, is that everyone here truly cares about what they are doing. Each and every person’s drive here seems to be that they genuinely care about the foundation’s cause and achieving its goals. It is the reason that more teenagers like myself should care about bringing basketball to underprivileged kids in India. Before working with this non-profit organization, I never would have understood why bringing basketball to underprivileged kids in India is so significant.
After conversing with my supervisor and doing my own research, I’ve realised that basketball is the ideal sport for India. With our large youth population, and a burning desire to learn and grow, this team sport is perfect. It encourages the idea of working together towards a common goal, which in turn raises morale.
Basketball offers much more than people know; increasing the amount of young underprivileged players should always remain a goal for India. That is the only way the face of basketball in India can change. Sports— in general— is a way that children can communicate, and interact with one another outside of academics. It helps students feel determined in another area of their lives. Additionally, basketball teaches young children how to communicate strongly with one another. If they are given the opportunity to be part of a team and if they all have the common goal to win, it allows for the development of respect, team building, trust, and the determination to thrive. I say this because I have experienced the effect of sports, and I can confirm that playing a sport seriously is a life-changing experience. In my view, Hi5 Youth Foundation is definitely making a difference in young children’s lives and working towards bettering the face of basketball in India.