Sport | Basketball

Slam dunk dreams

It was a clinic meant to teach basics, but some of the children showed they could do more.

  • By Rohan Alvares, Sports Reporter
  • Published: 08:57 July 30, 2009

  • Image Credit: XPRESS/Zarina Fernandes
  • 10-year-old Juanjo Mancia tries to dribble his way past the big boys.
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Dubai: The first Philippine Supermarket Basketball clinic for children might have come to an end, but one thing seems certain: young basketball enthusiasts will no longer be isolated from the fun and thrills that come with playing their favourite sport.

Around 50 children as young as five up to age 18, had the absolute time of their lives at the Dubai Club for Special Sports in Qusais attending basketball lessons over June and July.

For a good three hours every Saturday, the atmosphere and noise level that filled the club gymnasium would easily have rivalled that of any professional game back in Manila. It has only encouraged 34-year-old William Virtucio, the man behind its birth, to keep going.

“I'm always playing basketball and I saw there were only opportunities for grown-ups, but nothing for the kids. So I said why not start something for them,'' said Virtucio who has lived in Dubai for nearly a decade.

He added: “Kids are always playing Playstation and Xbox games at home. So the idea was to take them out of that into an environment where they can develop their interest in sports and enhance their skills.''

His idea has worked like a charm. Thanks to fun but detailed sessions supervised by ex-Philippines professional, Renato Suba, and a skilled team of coaches, many of the children certainly look like little pros in the making.

The best example was probably 10-year-old Juanjo Mancia. You just couldn't ignore the sight of him holding nothing back against boys almost twice his size and neither could his teammates as he wouldn't stop asking them for the ball till he got it.

His skill and grit earned him resounding applause as he shyly collected the ‘Best Dribbler' award among the older group of boys. When asked how come bigger opposition didn't scare him, the diminutive Kobe Bryant fan did rather well to not look offended. “When you play with smaller boys, it's easier, but when you play with bigger boys, it's harder. But it's always a fair game,'' was Mancia's straightforward explanation.

To say parents enjoyed the clinic as much as their children would be an understatement. “It's a welcome opportunity,'' said Randy Gamboa, father of eight-year-old Randy Ellis Mathew Gamboa. “It is very unfortunate our kids don't get to play the game here, so I hope this clinic is not the first and last one for them,'' he added.

Though the attendance was largely dominated by Filipinos, others like Sri Lankan Sanjeewa Perera who had enrolled his two sons Rolando and Orlando ‘never felt out of place'.
Virtucio is already preparing for a sequel in September, which he said, “would have a wider scope, not just for Filipinos''.

So while there would have been more than a few sad faces dragging their heels out of the gymnasium last Saturday, the good news is, September is just over a month away.

Contact info
For all information on the forthcoming Dubai Basketball clinic in September, contact William Virtucio (050-302 6242)