Written by Valts Rozentāls

We get up and prepare for the upcoming day – there is a girls team coming down from Szentgyörgy for a practice session and a game. The boys from Vendor would also visit again for a practice game. Fun time let’s go.

As we have about 30 kids taking part in the practice, we make it basic and fun so everyone can take a part. We start off with some warm-up for muscle activation and coordination, then add some dynamic stretching. Then we decided to split the kids in four groups and do different shooting contests, this is also a good preparation for the game afterwards.

The girls played first. Opponents had good technical skills but were taken out of the game early by the fierce and relentless game of the Hellenen and Bögöz girls. This just went to show once again that will and energy can separate the skill. We could see a nice development in the team play – much more passes, faster transition and altogether better spacing. As always, satisfying to see that players take the practice lessons and implement them into their game.

The same would go for the boys. Vendor boys came in the same roster as yesterday, but also, they had adapted and played better basketball, just like the Bögöz team. Better spacing, more passes, faster game and greater team spirit. Totally different from the game on Sunday.

Afterwards we still had some time left and decided to split the kids (those who wanted to play) into smaller groups and spent the rest of the time playing a 3×3 tournament. At this point we had had no rain for the past days, and it just kept getting hotter – shower time after the activities and the walk to the train.

Evening program was simple but exciting, dinner was planned outside, and we would setup a projector for a movie night. Irenke cooked one of her homemade, delicious stew-like dishes: potatoes with baked cheese for those who do not eat meat and with sausage for those who do. What she does in-between is a tasty mystery. If you are not a getting a second portion of it, something is wrong with your taste buds. Between us – everybody did.

The name of the film is “Isteni kéz” or “Hands of God” directed by László Barna and written by András Ifj. Petróczy and Ágnes Sós. The story revolves around Csángáló, the world-famous gypsy violinist of the Szászcsávás Band. He now lives in a small Transylvanian village and even if the glory days of the band are behind, they are still going around and playing on bigger stages. Though, he suffers from Parkinsons and can’t keep up with others, therefore the band leader Dumnezeu, with a broken heart, expels him from the band. There might be a solution with an operation for Csángáló, but for him the only help can come from God, therefore he refuses to go through with the surgery despite family and friends asking him to do the opposite. Instead, he puts his faith in his grandson Bálint to learn from him and continue the tradition of violin and music in his family.

This is kind of an independent film, and the director is traveling around to present his work. We thought he could not make it today, but at the end he managed to arrive for the last part of it. It was a great experience for the kids to meet somebody who had created a documentary masterpiece. This is another experience to see the film, meet the person who created it and even ask questions about the process and people in it.

After the film, some of the kids want to stay up a bit longer and enjoy the night sky. It’s so clear and full of stars, a rarity in a city polluted by light, but here in Bögöz…it’s just there for one to admire and sink into. There is a saying: “Do not forget to stop and smell the flowers.”; somebody said something like it about my remark – “But they are always there”, in Bögöz: “Just because it’s always there, doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate its beauty.”. Well, it rubbed off on all of us and that’s exactly what we did next day.

Written by Valts Rozentāls

We took the learnings gained in yesterday’s games and tailored our morning practice around deficiencies we were seeing on the field. Defensive basics – footwork, proper individual positioning and 1on1 defense. We had to get more ball stops and deny easy drives to the basket. This went well, although we noticed that some variance in skill between the groups were hindering us to move on with the practice at the desired tempo. We finished on point as we still had to get the nutritious breakfast in and take part in two hours of a traditional Szekler dance lesson.

This year the instructor was a different one, it was a teacher from the school we would visit later today. As the originally planned person cancelled the evening before, it was nice of him to jump in and teach us the basic steps of this traditional dance. One could at once notice he was in the business to educate people. Very clear spoken and even used French to break some of the language barriers we had. Otherwise, it would be translated for us. He got us up to speed very fast, by splitting the whole dance in smaller parts for girls and boys and then bringing it together at the end. Not only that, as he did not have a music box with him, he was singing all the time! Spectacular demonstration of skill – singing loud in rhythm and dancing at the same time.

Free time in-between the events was used by youth to play some pickup games on the court outside or play some board/card games together with Bögöz kids. It’s always interesting to see how they communicate with each other and how mutual interest in playing games bring people together.

For this evening we have planned to visit nearby village Galambfalva (the commune center Nagygalambfalva, previously one commune with Bögöz until break off in 2004) and present the game of Basketball to them and the work we are doing through it. Recently they had renovated a small gym at that school and are planning to build a proper sports gym with basketball court. They also have an outdoor basketball court in the school’s backyard. This could be an opportunity to grow the basketball community around the Bögöz and strengthen our roots. We had a meeting with the school principal, local coaches and everybody that was interested and showed up. We played some exhibition games to show how exciting our game is and to portray our love for it. Afterwards we presented ourselves and the project to the parents and everybody present. The principal of the school showed us the school – it is small, grades one to eight. Afterwards some more freestyle activities for youth and conversations for adults.

Two of our girls left earlier as they got an invitation to visit the home of one of the Bögöz girls they had made friends with. They would meet us later at the train station as they decided to stay together with the group and not spend the night. It was nice to see the friendships develop in the group and the mutual trust they put in each other.

For some reason the train schedule was not quite right. We did our best to arrive at the station on time, or at least what we thought was on time. We ended up waiting more than an hour for the train to take us home. Thankfully Irenke kept food warm until we arrived.

Written by Valts Rozentāls

Enjoy the free time and breakfast. We have a long day ahead of us and we must stay flexible – there is a chance for rain, but we hope it won’t come true. Right after breakfast we have a game day planned in Székelyudvarhely against teams from Vendor. One game for boys and one for girls.

Boys went first. Game turned out quite good and both teams could take something out of it for them. The opponents from Vendor were not in full strength due to some players being on vacation, they were also one year younger. The Bögöz Team (together with Hellenen) won the game and took many great lessons from it. We worked on many basics such as spacing in five out formation, cutting and filling and pushing the ball forth on fast breaks. We saw some deficiencies and decided to work on them in following trainings.

The girls‘ game clearly went one way. We didn’t only bring more skill on field, but also a larger number – unfortunately Vendor girls only came with six players. Still, this was good for the Bögöz team building and development. The girls played together nicely and showed Bögöz girls how to work on their basics in a game.

After the game we went for a pizza not so far from the swimming pool. It had rained recently, and we were not sure if the weather was good enough for a trip to an open-air swimming pool. After lunch it turned out to be just fine and we went for a swim. Because of the weather changes there were only other four people there, so we got basically the whole place just for us. The water was colder than usual, but because of the hot air it was very refreshing and enjoyable. We got a quick shower of rain while in the pool, but we were happy that we were wet already. Fun times.

Next action was to go home by train, and we came up with the grand idea of putting up some techno-music and dance to it. The great thing about dancing in public is the freedom that comes along with ignoring all the stares and just having fun without a care in the world. If you are lucky enough – somebody might even join in. It’s also a good way to pass time as we must wait for the train. It might be on time, might be later, rarely – but people say it might even be earlier than supposed to. Bögöz is two stations away from Székelyudvarhely, the ride takes about twenty minutes. The most exciting thing though is the sight of passing by landscapes. Once that evening light hits the pastors on hills… it does become magical.

We end our day with a practice session and dinner. Feedback round had to be sacrificed for sleep as everyone was very tired of all the activities and excitement in the past days. We will just get it done in future.