Keeping a grade average of 8.5 out of 10, loving sports, strict discipline and helping out at home, were just some of the requirements that the the Triqui indigenous children from the state of Oaxaca had to fulfill, in order to belong to coach Sergio Zúniga’s basketball team, part of his project as founder of the Indigenous Academy of Mexico.
All this was explained by licensed coach Guillermo Medina Ramírez from the Academy, while imparting a motivational speech in the Behavioral Sciences Department of the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (UAEM), before students of the bachelors in Physical Culture and Sports.
During the event, coach Medina Ramírez underlined the importance of practicing sports as discipline, which requires great infrastructure. Among the attendees were the director of Sporting Activities of the UAEM, María Esther Sánchez Coyote, and faculty director Manuel Gutiérrez Romero.
Joined by coaches and players of the famous Mexican team, with whom he exhibited training techniques for children of all ages, the coach told of how, in 2010, Sergio Zúñiga recruited coaches and players from different communities in Oaxaca and trained 800 children between 8 and 18 years of age.
The group was then reduced to 500, then 100 and finally 50, making up the team’s various categories, which after three years of practice and training attended their first basketball tournament in Aguascalientes, where they obtained second place.
The coach explained during his speech that training was strong, and made use of what they had around them: climbing hills, jumping over chairs, or moving logs. The Triqui mentality, he stated, is to never set barriers, to never give up, to face and overcome all obstacles.
He considered that practicing a sport changed the Triqui community. Now, he said, parents are interested in their children studying, because this leads them to participate in the team, and therefore, to travel outside the community of Santa Cruz Río Venado, where a high school now exists.
Daniel and Bernabé, members of the team, agreed the basketball has changed their worldview, that school became more important and has led them to reach many dreams, such as getting to know other cities and countries.
Practicing sports has led Triqui girls and boys from the basketball team — known as “Mountain Giants” — to play their game in the United States, Argentina, Uruguay, Spain, Italy, Germany, El Salvador, England and France. Very soon, they will do so in Puerto Rico, Canada and Japan.