Monday, June 20 2011
We had the first day of camp today. Was up and ready at the gym at 8am. Bahati had organized a press conference for the morning to start off the camp and add some publicity to the endeavour. He was expecting the media, members of the Tanzanian National Basketball Association, as well as Daryl from Tansao, himself from Mambo Basketball, and I from Memorial.
Interestingly enough, what I’m hearing and discovering about Tanzanian culture is that things do not always happen as they are planned. As it turned out the media did not turn up till 3:30 pm and the members of the National Basketball Association did not show up at all. Atypical of Tanzanians, Bahati was quite upset at this, particularly since he has worked the National team as an assistant coach, and part of their player development personnel.
But things got rolling and kids started coming in. We had planned on starting camp 9:30…and by 9:20, I was a little worried that we wouldn’t have enough kids. We only had 28 at that point, and we were expecting over 50 to turn up. I was told to wait…and that we are in Tanzania, and Tanzanian’s are always late! And sure enough…by mid afternoon…we were up to 58! Yes….I said mid-afternoon, cause that’s when some people showed up!
I did put in a rule that for everyone that came late…they had to do a line drill before they could enter the drills. But I got some strange looks from the other coaches and it seemed they were concerned I would scare some kids away!
Mosheid, a 25 year old 6’6 guy that looks 42, came up to me to explain why he was late. Said that he has to come from the other side of Dar and takes about 2 hours, 3 hours if there is a traffic jam and said today there was a traffic jam. He was the guy that didn’t show up till afternoon! He was somewhat upset when I told him he would have to run anyways…especially when I told him he could beat the traffic if he got up at 6am!
Besides the lateness, and the expected unexpectedness, I was pretty pleased with the first day of camp, and how things ran over all. We had 30 kids 14-17 and 28 kids 18+, with the oldest being 33! There is not a tonne of size, but there is a number of 6’3, 6’4 kids that can play, and that have already been pursuing colleges in the US. So there seems to be some potential here, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.
We are lucky with the facilities at the IST (International School of Tanganyika – Tanzania is the name of the country that came from the combining of Tanganyika with the Zanzibar in 1964 into one state). They have the indoor gym and the outdoor gym. So we were able to break the group into <18 and 18 and above and have them in separate gyms. I have 3 coaches helping me, Kaballah, who coaches one of the club teams in Tanzania, Moody, who is Bahati’s assistant with the Mambo basketball club, and Bahati. We are expecting another coach from Zanzibar to join us on Wednesday.
Out goal of the day was to get the group down to 30 kids, as that is what we originally agreed upon. Given the two gyms, I was content to keep everybody, but Bahati was insistent that it was important to make the cuts. Plus, I think there is huge issues with the amount of water we would need, and the cost of providing lunches to that many kids. Water is not cheap in Tanzania, as you cannot drink the tap water. We went through six 5 Gallon jugs today. It was in 32 degrees weather, and it was better to playing in the outdoor court! Pretty hot and humid inside. The outdoor court has a roof and is a pretty sweat set up for an outdoor court.
By the end of the day, we had a pretty good read on who the top kids were in each age group. We ended up keeping 19 from the older age group, and 15 from the younger age group. Was over our quota, but I figured it was better to keep more if we were unsure of guys. Plus, I’m assuming some guys won’t be showing up for the full week, if my current experiences are any indication.
So looks like we are off to a good start and everyone seems pleased with how things are working out. Hopefully things will continue to go smoothly.
That’s it for now!