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Enjoy & Learn


Basketball overseas

Hebbel, a famous German playwright, once said that nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion. Passion thus appears to trigger our hidden dreams, sometimes harbored for years, which later not only may fulfill ourselves but also touch the lives of our friends, colleagues and even accidental passers-by. It goes without saying that it is our ‘students’ who bring a unique atmosphere to every class.

Traditional educational systems of the past seemed only to perceive the students as ‘empty vessels’ that teachers were supposed to fill with knowledge. However, the teachers of Felberg know that their students are actually living gems, treasures and sometimes “dark horses” who have unique interests, hobbies, achievements or life stories. Why not talk openly about them?

Basketball–Kasia’s hobbyhorse

Poznań, the Felberg school, six o’clock in the evening. A young blond woman in her twenties is sitting at a desk among other participants of the upper-intermediate group. It’s early October and hardly anyone in the group knows about her lifelong passion yet. This, however, is going to change in a minute when the teacher with a guitar in his hands starts the discussion about the interests which take up so much of our life to make it colorful and exciting. Kasia started playing basketball in the 5th grade. “We practiced twice a week in the beginning and it was a piece of cake in comparison with the next years to come,” she reminisces. After a few months of fun Kasia’s team welcomed a professional coaching staff: Mr. and Mrs. Jabłoński. The best players were selected and asked to play for Olimpia Poznań. And all the hard work began. They practiced every day from Monday to Friday after school and had games every weekend with local teams. Soon they became second best team in Poznań. “In spite of the hard work, basketball became my passion and all I wanted to do was to improve my skills, do everything better and faster than my teammates,” explains Kasia, with sparkling eyes. Time seems to stand still; everyone pricks up their ears to listen on. “You must know that basketball is a fast-paced and exciting sport that requires teamwork, speed and endurance,” she says. “If you are not good enough there are other players that are waiting to take your place on the team. That’s why I felt very motivated to work as hard as possible to stay in good shape. Practicing was all I did in my spare time.” Kasia’s accent does sound American. The teacher puts the guitar down on the desk and asks her to continue.

What does teamwork mean in language and sport?

The group is small, six students altogether. The atmosphere is welcoming and optimistic, full of youthful joy and determination to learn English. Kasia thinks for a minute then adds: “Playing a team sport like basketball requires communication between players, that’s why a good atmosphere on the team is so important. There is no place for arguments. Everything you do, you do for your team.” Her words sound mature, everyone has the impression that this thoughful, cheerful young woman has had a lot of experience when it comes to her passion. Kasia continues: “This sport taught me also how to overcome my weaknesses and play hard not letting my opponent know that I may be afraid of him.” All eyes are on Kasia as she continues her story. The role of the teacher is now to listen, to let the student use English communicatively, and at the same time to allow the rest of the group to practice their listening comprehension and turn-taking skills as they ask their fellow student more and more questions.

Overseas adventure–travel and learn

Basketball seems to be not only about continual practicing. All the best teams are invited to tournaments where during a few days of games their skills are tested. “Our club team was invited for many home and international tournaments which we either won or came second or third,” Kasia mentions. Her stay in the USA appears to capture everyone’s attention as she reminisces about her memorable experiences at a basketball tournament that took place in the United States in 1999. “Our club team got an invitation for the Seacoast International Basketball Festival in Exeter, New Hampshire which takes place every two years in mid-July. Before that we had about two weeks of spare time spent playing some games against college teams, sightseeing at Disney World, Cape Canaveral Space Center and having fun on the white beaches of Panama City.” Travel seems always a crucial part in learning anything from putting up a tent through orienteering skills to language. What’s most valuable, the sense of experience and adventure. The Seacoast International Basketball Festival is quite a big event and is very well known in the local community so one can count on big audiences and a great atmosphere. Kasia remembers precisely: “This tournament was not only a good opportunity to test our skills but also showed our coaching staff other methods of work.” Her whole team was able to take part in practice matches with teams from France, the USA and Canada. “That experience showed us that basketball is an international sport that breaks down all boundaries. We made many friends and picked up a few rivals,” she adds with a grin.

A great school of life

Kasia Albrecht has been playing for 14 years and enthuses that it has been a great time. “It taught me how to be well organized, adjust to difficult situations and to not give up easily,” she smiles. Her adventure was a wonderful way to make many friends and travel a lot. “A great school of life,” she admits. The lesson is not wasted. Apart from sweating over grammatical rules there is also an inexhaustible source made up of our students who come to the class with heads and hearts already filled with knowledge, enthusiasm, and interesting experiences. The teachers’ role is merely to let them speak.

Piotr Maćkała

 

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