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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.”