Written by Valts Rozentāls

“Wherever you are, it’s the place you need to be.” / Maxime Lagacé /

Ninth summer camp in Bögöz. We can’t believe how fast time flies. It only seems like yesterday we were here, but it was last summer. One year is gone again. We can only wonder and look at what we have achieved, what is yet to come and what challenges we will need to face. We are happy for our new group of kids coming this year – with exception of four kids who are for the second or third time here, everyone is new and ready for new experiences. 

First day – after some friendly shootout games, the usual first ‘get together’ with the kids from Bögöz. The weather still plays nice and we can gather outside and enjoy stew made by our lovely hostess Irénke. Afterwards a few words from Éva (Project Management on-site), Sandy (Programm Manager) and Nadine (Research Analyst) as an official camp opener. Quick feedback round and up to beds – tomorrow is the first big day.

Despite starting at 08:00 o’clock, we start to feel the warmth of the sun which will accompany us for the rest of the day until rain will take over in the evening. Today we have almost thirty kids from both Bögöz and Munich. First observation – the kids from Bögöz have developed basketball skill-wise and we can work with them more easily, despite the language barrier. Barni (former player and current coach in Bögöz) now helps us with the practice and acts as a translator. He was one of the first kids who started to participate in the Basketball Leben project in Bögöz.

We go all together with the Bögöz youth which show the guests from Munich their village. Right after we split them in different groups and they prepare the meal for group lunch. This works out really well as the groups have taken up communication very soon and are willing to work together. This is a perfect intro for what is planned – mini-games. Four groups, multiple challenging tasks,  a lot of teamwork and finding the best solutions. Mind you – in VERY hot weather. 

Evening practice got cut short due to rain. Five minutes more and we would have found ourselves in the middle of a hefty summer storm. Luckily we break it up just in time and escape the rough ways of nature.

Feedback rounds are good for overall information from the group. This year we wanted to go deeper and talk with the youth in smaller groups with more targeted questions.

Here are some of the first answers we’ve got.

Q: What meaning does basketball seem to have in the lives of the youth here?

Laila, 14 (second time part of the camp)

“Basketball is already a big part of the community here and allows the youth to have something in common and a sense of belonging. I also noticed that they’ve gotten better with their basketball technique and skills. This also shows that basketball plays a central role in their life.”

Q: What would be important to change here in the village, community?

Charlotte, 13 (first time part of the camp)

“It would be important to think and act on general education and development of infrastructure in the village. Also they would probably profit by learning Romanian as a language. I know that they are a minority here and reluctant to learn Romanian, but they still live in Romania and the language would open more opportunities for work for many of them and help with the finances. With more finances it could allow them to fix their houses properly and go after infrastructure projects.”

Henri, 12 (first time part of the camp)

“I agree on education. Maybe they can learn in eight grades what they need to exist, but it would definitely open more opportunities if education was also persuaded overall after eight grade class. ”

Written by Valts Rozentāls

Draining energy. Monochromatic scene unfolded as the fog crept across the landscape and was accompanied by half-awake teens. Practising in the morning is not an easy task, but it builds character. We are preparing for the tournament this afternoon, so we planned less drills and more scrimmages for decision making – 1on1, 2on2 and 4on4. All with disadvantage for the defence to stimulate offensive decision making, fast finishes and defensive prioritising.

Strengthened by the breakfast we take a short walk to the culture house for some Szekler dance lessons. We can already feel the temperature rising. Our luck today was the fog which held back the sun long enough for us to properly enjoy the first half of the day. It’s always interesting to see how the groups each year handle the more intimate setting of dancing. Up till now we’ve seen it to work amazingly – breaking boundaries and bringing the youth closer together. After the dancing, this can also be observed in their free time. Groups are not strictly Munich and Bögöz anymore. They are all trying to communicate, playing games together and having fun. Now it’s becoming one big group instead. During feedback in the evening we can hear that language is still a barrier, but also here it has gotten better and it’s becoming easier for the kids to talk in English.

In the afternoon we received guests from Székelyudvarhely and Székelykeresztúr for a small basketball tournament outdoors. The weather is playing nice (although a bit hot…) and everybody is having a lot of fun. We decided for short ten minute games which rounded up to sixteen games. Ten minutes were just enough as the hot weather started to take its toll as the games went by. What we really liked to see is that also the parents came to support their children and took refuge on the sidelines in the shade. The vibe really was like in the best American movies – community meeting up for a sports event together and having a good time.

At the end our friends from Udvarhely were the victors for boys and the mixed team of Bögöz and Munich for girls.