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Barefoot Basketball


Basketball Half-Court in Badin village May 12, 2012


"Barefoot Basketball" comes to Pakistan

Barefoot basketball in Badin

How can the energy of hundreds of young lads in flood-stricken Badin be channelised towards positivity? Simple: by dribbling a basketball. In a video filmed by LEDtronics President & CEO Pervaiz Lodhie, a basketball half-court is seen put up in the Deenar Khan Talpur village in district Badin, where most of the land was washed away by floods in 2010 and 2011. The villagers who had never played or seen basketball before are filmed flaunting their jerseys ” grouped in different teams according to their villages. The video shows them learning basketball tricks and warming up to play “barefoot basketball.” Surrounded by chalk boundaries, the bare-foot players are seen racing towards the basket. The audience roars each time a point is scored by the players and applauds echo in the air. Point after point, the players seem to understand the game better as the audience remains enthralled. 'Barefoot Basketball' is a joint effort of Pervaiz Lodhie along with different non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Global Environment Facility (GEF), Small Grants Programme, Larr Environment Awareness Forum (LEAF), Indus Development Foundation (IDF).

Cultivating the competitive spirit

While travelling through the flood-affected areas of Badin, one can now witness a truly astonishing sight: two basketball courts bathed in floodlights that are powered by solar energy.

The courts are the result of a joint initiative of the Indus Development Forum (IDF), the Laar Environmental Program Awareness Forum (LEAF) and industrialist-cum-philanthropist Pervaiz Lodhie.

The objective behind this initiative is to engage the youth, many of whom are unable to pursue their education because of poverty and displacement, in healthy activities that keep them away from joining criminal gangs or falling prey to drug addiction.

When this writer visited the courts, which are located on the outskirts of the Ramzan Mallah and Deenar Talpur villages, they were packed with children. Three teams were taking part in a basketball tournament organized by the NGOs– with each team having received training from a basketball coach from Karachi.

Residents of Deenar Talpur say this is the first initiative of its kind in their area, and that the tournament had attracted crowds of youths and local people from nearby villages.

Many of these people are still living in uncertainty after being displaced by the floods.

“This initiative will also help school children recover from the shocking scenes they witnessed when the floods devastated their villages,” explained Masood Lohar, National Coordinator UNDP Green Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Program.

Lohar believes that the biggest benefit of competitive sports, aside from the obvious health benefits, is that they promote social interaction.

The development of the courts was funded by Pervaiz Lodhie, who claims to have traveled all the way from the Thar Desert to the flood-hit areas of Sindh to distribute solar powered lamps to the flood-affected people. Lodhie has also provided the teams with equipment and sports kits, and says he is willing to fund similar projects in other villages in the area.

He calls his efforts a “war on darkness”. “I want to see the local youth come and play together,” he says, “I want to see this in the far off areas, where people have no access to electricity.”

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