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Chaldean Basketball Grows With Talent and Time
By Ray Yono :: Thursday, February 19, 2009 :: 36058 Views :: Sports, Art, and Entertainment

Illinois, USA – Chaldeans and basketball may become as natural as American and apple pie.  The sport is taking hold of the community as some of the most dedicated fans show their support.  However,   becoming fans and sitting on the sidelines is rarely enough for the ambitious community. 

Adel Meram a former basketball coach in Baghdad Iraq taught fundamental basketball in the early 60’s to Iraqi students.  Meram says it seems basketball is returning to its historic roots when dealing with the Chaldean community.  Today the Chaldean Basketball League and the Chaldean Church Sports League boast one of the largest and most competitive and action packed youth leagues in the community. 

Meram says the natural competitive drive of Chaldeans soon pushed them on the court to take on their school peers and friends in parking lots and playgrounds.  Meram goes on to share that basketball was invented in 1891. The inventor of the game was a Canadian clergyman, James Naismith.  Fr. Naismith invented basketball as an alternative to the calisthenics and marching of his faith filled students to keep fit in the winters.  

The game of basketball was mixture of other games, seeking to eliminate flaws of indoor rugby, soccer and lacrosse. Fr. Naismith also borrowed aspects from the children’s game “Duck-on-a-Rock,” in which children tried to knock off a rock from a boulder by tossing smaller rocks from about 20 feet away.  In America the first game was played at the International Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Training School, now called Springfield College.

Today more and more Chaldeans are demonstrating that hard work, focus, and composure on the basketball court can trump natural talent.  “You wouldn’t find too many basketball courts in the Iraqi desert,” says Adel Meram, a former basketball coach in Baghdad.  “Chaldeans do great because of their work ethic and attitude.”

Along with community leagues Chaldean athletes are making impressive gains on the court.  Chaldean coaches are leading teams to impressive victories and players from across the state stand-out as all-star players. 

In the East Suburban Catholic Conference of Illinois St. Viator Lion Alan Aboona is one of the leading junior point guards in the conference.

Although St. Viator has not been playing as consistently as many expected, team leader Alan Aboona keeps his team in contention.  Recently, Aboona hit two 3-pointers and scored a game-high 30 points, including a 12-of-13 effort from the free-throw line. The agile junior helped keep the team in respective standing. 

Chaldean Basketball all-stars are not limited to only the male persuasion.  Being just as competitive and savvy on the court female basketball players are making incredible strides in the sport. 

In the Central Suburban North championship of Illinois Main West, led by senior Shaina Yalda capture their third crown.  Their championship win marks the 23rd time in 28 years under Hall of Fame coach Derril Kipp that Maine West has been solo conference champs.


Meram says that basketball was a simple game, which consists of a ball and a basket. “The very first ball that was used was a soccer ball until 1894 when an actual ‘basketball’ was invented,” says Meram. 

Today Chaldeans play on major basketball high school and college teams.  “There are Chaldeans playing for Michigan State University and University of Detroit Mercy to name just a few,” says Meram.  “If anyone watches a CCSL basketball game they can see the passion, fun, and success our Chaldean youth have with this sport.”

Sacred Heart Parish, MI USA


Sacred Heart Parish
310 W. Seven Mile. Rd.
Detroit, MI 48203
Tel: (313) 368-6214
Fax: (313) 891-0132

The parish was established by Rev. Jacob Yasso in 1973

Rev. Jacob Yasso

Rev. Jacob Yasso was born in the village of Telkaif, Iraq.  After completing high school he was recruited to Rome and Urbaniana University where he completed his Masters Degree in philosophy and Theology.  Fr. Yasso was ordained a priest in 1960 and served the Diocese of Mosul, where he worked in the public school system. Fr. Yasso was also asked by the Patriarch to teach at the Patriarchal Seminary in Baghdad, where he served as administrator, professor of philosophy and religious life, and rector of the minor seminary. 

In 1964, Fr. Yasso was appointed to the United States to serve the growing Chaldean community in Detroit.  There he served as the 4th Pastor of Mother of God Parish.  .  In 1972, the Patriarch charged Fr. Yasso with building a new parish for the Chaldeans in Detroit.  In taking great pains to care for the community Fr. Yasso accelerated the development of a new church and community center.  In 1975, Fr. Yasso completed the development of Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit and shortly thereafter he added the Chaldean Center of America in 1980, 

A few years later in 1982, Fr. Yasso was asked to assist the late Fr. Kattoula at St. Peter’s Church in San Diego, CA.  Before long, Fr. Yasso was once again recruited to Rome to study new Canon Law of the Church.  While in Rome Fr. Yasso completed his third Masters Degree in Church Law, making him the only Chaldean priest trained in Canon Law. 

In 1988, the Patriarch and Vatican authorities asked Fr. Yasso to travel to Canada and establish a parish and community center.  While there he served as a Tribunal Judge for the Archdiocese of Toronto.  Four years later Fr. Yasso returned to Sacred Heart church in Detroit to help care for the remaining Chaldean community residence in the Detroit area.  To this day, Fr. Yasso continues to serve as the parish pastor creating activities and advising the City of Detroit on community related matters. 

Fr. Yasso is a member of the International WYCLIF Bible translators, since 1975, and has completed the translation of the New Testament from Greek and Aramaic into Arabic and spoken Chaldean.   The publication of his scholarly work is set to be released soon.