- 1.Go for it Raghav: the basketball team (part 1)
In the first part of this story, Raghav starts senior school. Read the story of how tries out for the school basketball team. Does he believe in himself?
Raghav was looking forward to the school reopening after the summer vacations. Well, usually Raghav was not too excited about going back to school after the vacations but this year it was different.
Raghav was starting senior school this year and this meant he could be a part of the basketball team for the school. He had been fond of playing basketball since he was a small kid and somebody had gifted him a basketball hoop that could be mounted on a wall in his garden and he could practice on his own.
When he had turned five, his favourite uncle got him a basketball ring which his father then mounted on the wall really low to suit his height. The ball had been too heavy for him and he could hardly ever lift it and throw it in the right direction initially. However he was relentless in his pursuit of trying to get the ball go through the ring successfully.
As time went by he became better at throwing the ball through the ring, the height of the ring increased with time and ultimately he got a bigger new ring. Often his dad would practice with him; he also improved by watching the sport on television and observing his seniors at school. As time went by he realised there was more to the game then just throwing the ball in the right direction or shooting as it was called.
He would try and practice dribbling, passing and running with his dad or friends and sometimes alone too. He had wanted to play basketball at school but was told that they were allowed to play basketball only once they reached senior school.
So when Raghav reached the fifth standard he could not wait for the year to get over so that he could start playing at school. This summer vacations he had practiced even more and now looked forward to playing at school.
After the school reopened Raghav could hardly wait for a chance to start playing basketball. Soon the day arrived, they met their basketball coach, Mr. Singh who explained them the rules. Raghav played his heart out and was overjoyed when the coach told him at the end of the class that he played well.
In the next class Mr. Singh told him to work on his blocking and passing skills and gave him a few tips. Raghav heard him intently and tried to follow what the coach said. A few weeks later Mr. Singh called Raghav after the class and said, “We have team selections for the middle school team next week. We will choose players from the 6th to 8th standard to form a team that will play in inter-school competitions.”
He added, “As you know that there are only five players on the field and we usually keep two as a standby so the competition to get in the team will be tough.”
Raghav was overjoyed; he had not expected this to happen. He knew one more boy from another section of the sixth standard had also been asked to join the selection process. They were all supposed to gather at the court after school on Friday for a briefing from the coach.
He reached the court and was filled with anticipation. Some boys were already there and some trickled in. One really tall boy asked him what he was doing there. Raghav replied, “I am here for the basketball team selection”. The tall boy looked incredulously at Raghav and said in a friendly way, “My name is Ashish and good luck to you”.
Raghav soon realised that other boys were looking at him funnily; some looked amused while others gave him a sneering look. He was not sure why! Soon Mr. Singh came and everybody was alert. The coach explained that they would just be doing some warm ups that day and the practice would start next week. They would practice one hour before school every day for two weeks after which the final selection would happen.
He told them all to stand in a line and come to the court one by one so that he could brief them about their game individually. Somebody nudged Raghav and said, “You go first, Chotu!” Others started sniggering and chanted, “Chotu Chotu!” under their breath. Another tall boy said to him scornfully, “You are too short to play basketball, come back after two years! Ashish said, “Don’t listen to them, you concentrate on your game”
Raghav suddenly understood the looks that he had got when he had arrived on the court. He suddenly seemed to be unsure about his skills but he still went to the court to start the warm up session. He looked around and realized that he was much shorter than any other player and may be the tall boy was right. Even his classmate was much taller than he was! Somehow this aspect had never come to his mind before. The coach sensed that something was wrong and asked Raghav, “Is something wrong, you seem to be distracted!”
Raghav said, “Sir, I think I am too short to play in the basketball team.”
Mr. Singh looked at him and smiled patiently. He kept a hand on Raghav’s shoulder and said, “Beta, yes, you are shorter than the other boys here but who decides what is too short to play basketball? He then asked the next boy to come to the court and told Raghav, “Hey, you should come fifteen minutes earlier than the rest of them. We will see what we can do about you be being short,” he smiled encouragingly.
The next boy came and started his practice, Raghav did not wait to watch the game and picked up his bag and walked out of the school gate. His mother had come to pick him. She was surprised to see Raghav walking towards her in a dejected way, his shoulders drooping and his head bent low. She could see from far that he was upset!
So what happens next? Does Raghav get selected in the team or does he have to wait for a few years!
- relentless: to be persistent or dedicated
- incredulously: disbelievingly
- sniggering: giggle or laugh in a teasing way