To practice basketball with no shoes is very difficult in itself, but to go win an international tournament under those conditions is even more complicated. But the young indigenous kids who belong to the Triqui tribe in Oaxaca, Mexico showed that t win all you really need is the will to push forward.
The triqui kids are part of one of the poorest indigenous communities in the entire country. They represented Mexico in the International Festival of Minibasketball in Argentina where they got a lot of attention due to the fact that they practiced with no shoes; but also for their amazing ball skills which lead them to six straight wins to win the tournament.
Lead by their coach Sergio Zuñiga, the young Tiqui kids beat the Celestes 86-3 in the opening match, followed by a 22-6 win over Universidad de Córdoba. They then followed it up with a 72-16 win over Central, 82-18 over Hindu, 44-12 over Monteeis, and finally 40-16 over Mendoza.
It is worth mentioning that in Cordova; host city of the event people were so moved by the kids that they all pitched in to get the kids some shoes. But the entire regional qualification process in Mexico was played shoeless.
In an interview with the organizers Zuñiga said “These kids think the world is the mountain, where girls get married at age 13 and where boys leave home to the United States at age 15. That is their culture, there just isn’t enough money to buy the kids shoes.”
He also added “this isn’t just about basketball. We only use basketball to get the kids to study, if they don’t maintain a 8.5 average (out of 10. About C+ in the USA) then they don’t practice or play. Through basketball we get the kids to study and that is where the important results are going to come in.”
The young triqui kids are now traveling back to Mexico and will soon be able to get back into their school work to keep growing in their community.