May 31, 2008
SALY, Senegal -
Cal director of operations Sarah Holsinger will be blogging daily from Africa.
We pulled out of our hotel this morning at 11:30 a.m. to venture into the city of Dakar. Dakar is the capital of Senegal and is located about two to 2.5 hours (depending on traffic) from our hotel. We started our day with a clinic at a boys and girls club called BOPP. The clinic was scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. At 10 a.m. Ousmane (our tour guide) said that the teachers at the club had called him and said that the kids were so excited that they were already arriving at the club. Their excitement was apparent when we walked through the entrance and 150 children had made a human tunnel for us to walk through. Rama's brother, Kalid, greeted us at the other side of the tunnel. He is 13-years-old and 6-6.
We had the teachers at the club organize the kids into one mass group. We started the clinic out by doing a mass teaching of defense. We taught them defensive stance, slides and boxing out. They really enjoyed shouting DEFENSE in English and in return they taught us how to say "We love it" in Wolof (native language of Senegal), which is "Beugueu Naalen" (sounds like Boog a nali).
Next we split the kids up into four groups of 40 and did station work. Our stations consisted of passing, shooting, dribbling and defense. The kids really put so much effort into each of the stations and tried all the skills that they were taught. Even though it was in the high 90s, not a single person complained.
When we finished the stations, we took a group photo with all the children and our players. The children were very appreciative and gave lots of high fives and hand shakes to show their gratitude as we headed back to the bus.
It was 4 p.m., and we had an hour before our game against the Senegal National team. Since most of us had not eaten since breakfast, we decided to grab food at a nearby cafe. They served pizzas, panini's and pasta. We ate as quickly as possible so that we could head to the gym. We loaded the bus and then we unloaded the bus...and no, we weren't at the gym. Our bus, and yes the same bus that had a flat tire a few nights ago, wouldn't start. So Ousmane quickly flagged down six taxis, and we loaded up (three players and one staff member in each) and headed out.
After a 10-minute cab ride, we arrived at the gym. Inside the gym, two men's club teams were playing. There is definitely some great basketball talent in Senegal. The men and the women are so athletic. We started our game about 45 minutes late.
The arena was in fairly good shape, and I was surprised at how many people were in the stands. I would say around 300 people attended our game. I must say though that the Senegalese were missing a few items that would have been helpful for our game. The score was kept on a chalkboard across from our bench, and the time was being kept on a cell phone at the scorer's table. It took me a quarter to figure out how they were working the game clock. When I would ask how much time was remaining, they would tell me how many minutes we had played.
There was no shot clock. Instead, there was a man at the scorer's table with a mega phone who shouted the time (counting up), and this great little tool had a siren that would go off (and it did because we couldn't hear his "count up") at the end of the 24-second shot clock. FIBA rules are 24 seconds instead of 30.
The game was very exciting, and it came down to the last possession. We came back from an eight-point deficit to rally for a two-point win. We held Senegal scoreless for approximately the last six minutes of the final quarter. It was a great team victory. Natasha Vital had 19 points and the game winning free throws in the last six seconds. Ashley Walker had 15 points, and Krista Foster had 14. See CalBears.com for a complete recap.
After the game, we bused (on our new upgraded and overly air conditioned bus) the 2 hours back to Saly. It was a quiet bus ride because everyone was exhausted and tired from the heat and our long day. Tomorrow, we have most of the day to ourselves. Some of us have planned to go to the markets to do some shopping, and others are planning on lounging on the beach or by the pool.
In the late afternoon, we are going to visit a local orphanage. I have a feeling this is going to be an emotional experience for us all. There are only two more days left on our journey. Until tomorrow...GO BEARS!