Our time in Mozambique was spent with my good friend Schalk. He is the leader of a community development project, the aim of the project is to help the locals by providing English and computer classes, sport development, agriculture and entertainment through a local band.
The American team brought a bunch of soccer balls, shoes and clothing – they also arrived with three brand new basketballs. On our first evening the locals played against ‘our’ basketball team. It was a hotly contested game and became even more intense when we told them that the winner would receive the brand new ball! All of them turned into a Michael Jordon, playing with everything within them. You might wonder why a ball motivated them so much …
The ball they owned was a beat up Spalding at some time it showed orange, but it had lost all the leather and now showed a dirty grey. Week in and out they played with a leatherless basketball the color of the gym’s floor. The ball they played with that night was brand new! The orange must have blinded them and it motivated them big time.
They won the game and there was a formal ceremony where the Pierced group handed them the new ball. They received the ball and what happened next brought tears to my eyes. All of them formed a circle and they shouted a victory cry, followed by spontaneous song. They placed their hands on the ball and lifted it up as a team– joy was written all over their faces. I could swear they won the NBA finals, and for them they did.
As I walked home I mused over the fact that there must be thousands of basketballs all over the world, basketballs used once or twice now laying forgotten in a corner. Some kid really wanted the ball and when he got it, he played with it for a day maybe two and then moved onto something else. I reflected on how blessed I/we are, we are rich and yet we are so poor. I want to feel the excitement those guys felt when they lifted their McMillan basketball!