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Dubai kids continue their basketball training from their living rooms during times of coronavirus Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Staying at home is not a problem for Dubai kids who are passionate in developing their basketball skills. Every afternoon – after they’re done with their online class and homework, they attend an online basketball training conducted by Dubai-based Phases Basketball.

“Even though we stay at home, following instructions by the government to help fight the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we still keep ourselves active. We do video conferencing and execute the drills sent to us online by our coach,” 12 –year old Marcus Flores, who plays shooting guard, told Gulf News.

Drills include cardio workouts like burpees, push ups, squat jumps, high knees, stretching and ladder drills to work on the kids’ core strength and develop their agility, balance and speed.

There are also ball dribbling challenges, including 50 behind-the-back, 50 front crossover and 50 dribbling between the legs – all done under one minute; as well as dribbling while juggling a tennis ball

Flores said: “Sometimes I feel muscle cramps after finishing the drills. I have never done this much workout before.”

“It’s really different doing it in a gym, where coaches can physically monitor what I’m doing. But doing the exercise at the comfort of my home has taught me another form of discipline,” he added.

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Marcus Flores dribbling while juggling a tennis ball Image Credit: Supplied

Team effort

Coach Alex Callueng, a veteran basketball player and one of the founders of Phases Basketball, said: “Yes, basketball is a team sport but we have an issue at hand. We have to stay at home so we are connecting with each other via video call. This is the only way for now we can get together as a team.”

Callueng, who is known by his students as a stickler for discipline, however, implements a flexible workout routine. He shared: First, I message them on the group chat and set the time for the video conference. The number of participants depends on the availability of the kids. Sometimes they are busy with studies even at night; but on the average, we gather around 10 kids every day.”

“Drills are basic – from cardio to dribbling workouts and yoga. We really try our best to get the kids active in these trying times. I also incorporate breathing exercises and other simple workouts to take the kids away from their gadgets,” Callueng explained.

Those who can’t join the video conference are asked to finish the workouts whenever and wherever they can. The kids hop, bounce, run forward, backwards and sideways; dribble the ball in their living room, bedroom, balcony or building garage. We understand that some of us don’t have the luxury of having a big space at home, but the workouts don’t really need a lot of space, according to Callueng.

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Players stay connected with their coach through video link up Image Credit: Supplied

Viral challenge

To add more thrill to the exercise and to encourage other kids to stay healthy and strong despite being quarantined, Callueng has also introduced a social media challenge. “I told my student to post their videos on TikTok, Facebook and Instagram,” he said.

Callueng’s own 12-year old son, Lexi, posted a video displaying his nifty dribbling skills while others, like Armaan, added more fun by posting a video of himself playing with an avatar tiger at their residence. The father and son tandem of Jude and Rikk Morales also posted their workout bonding.

Callueng emphasised doing the workout is not just about being healthy but also building one’s character. “The kids are not used to being in a confined space while doing the workouts – they prefer the basketball court. But, because we are living in challenging times, the kids also had to make adjustment. This way, we are also developing their values and discipline,” he added.

The kids do miss the actual scrimmage, shooting hoops, banging bodies as well as the taunts and banterings on the basketball court. But like in basketball, they are now putting up their best defence against COVID-19, by staying at home.

With further reference to basketball, Callueng added: “At present, the scores are favour of the deadly virus, but I am certain that we will stage a strong comeback and win the game. All we need is strong defence and solid teamwork – the kids are showing it to us.”