Never underestimate what hope and belief in youth can inspire them to pursue their passions and dreams!
During a collaboration with Heart of Basketball Singapore, one of our youths got the opportunity to participate in a selection trial during the June holidays and was selected for the Heart of Basketball scholarship to play in competitions!
Jeff’s* story starts with his interest in basketball and the support he had around him:
“My father was the one that got me interested in playing basketball. When I was 8 years old, I wanted to join football but my father encouraged me to join basketball instead so I could grow taller, so I agreed (laughs).
I didn’t grow taller but fell in love with the game instead and continued playing through my years at school. The feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction I get from playing well in basketball makes it different from the other sports I’ve played. I started practicing more and more and eventually got chosen and played for the National School Game in Secondary 1 and 2. Even though this was a great opportunity, I didn’t do very well during the game because I had no chemistry with my teammates.
My teammates didn’t like me because they felt that I wasn’t a good player. This made me want to practice even more to prove to myself that I could be better at reaching my goal of being the best player on the team. The late Kobe Bryant once said, “If you practice hard, you can make it” and this has kept me going.
Even though I love the game, it hasn’t been easy because there were many times when I got bullied for not playing well in school. Whenever we play a match, my teammates won’t pass the ball to me and will say things like “You suck”, “nobody likes you”, “Why are you practicing so hard when you are not even improving” and “You should just quit”.
Hearing these things made me want to quit because what was the point if no one wanted to include me and train with me. But I decided that I will ignore these negative voices and train even harder to gain the recognition of my teammates.
Also, there was someone who believed in me, who told me to not give up and made me think that if I practice more, I could be the best. Because of these words of encouragement, I continued practicing and training, eventually getting selected to be a part of the Heart of Basketball (H.O.B) Team.
Being part of the Heart of Basketball team, I met Coach Nat, he gave me a chance to prove to myself that I could be an even better player and for that I’m very grateful. When I first joined the team, I didn’t really have a lot of friends in the H.O.B team because my teammates were the star players in their own schools. I thought that I would experience the same type of treatment that I received from my school teammates but I was wrong. These players were friendly, helpful and accepted me.
Coach Nat and the coaching staff also taught me that being a good player is more than just having good skills and being able to play multiple positions. It is also about being a good leader, encouraging your teammates when they are down, and helping them improve during the game. My Heart of Basketball coach shared with me this saying “A good player can win games, but a good leader can win championships.”
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten from my coaches so far is:
“If you are determined to do something, don’t give up no matter what because there are going to be challenges in your life that will pull you down.”
When you have a goal, keep it in mind and work hard every day to be the best! Even though it might be tough, don’t give up if you are determined to accomplish something. Through hard work and perseverance, you will achieve it for sure.”
Jeff* continues to work hard towards his goal of playing for the Singapore National Team at the highest level. We hope his story of mental resilience, positive beliefs, and work ethic inspires you to build up self-belief in your strengths!
*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the youth