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living the dream: Bahrain’s 2018 All Star weekend

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WTLC’s Ali AlShowaikh brings to us the very first All Star weekend from his home country.

As a leader, if you want to achieve any sort of goal, you need need to aim high as well as set high standards.

From a basketball point view, the NBA is the highest standard you could ever reach, as It has the highest level of talent and entertainment in pro basketball. Based on that, almost all basketball associations across the world, including Bahrain’s Basketball Association, are NBA-inspired.

In my previous post, I wrote about the initiatives of the president of Bahrain’s Basketball Association, his highness Prince Isa Bin Ali, in launching the biggest NBA2K tournament in the Middle-East. However, one of his remarkable initiatives was celebrating the National day of Bahrain, which was on the 16thof December through hosting an All Star event.

Contextually, Bahrain’s All Star event is similar to the NBA’s All Star event. However, there are some slight differences. On the 16thof December, we had a 3x3 FIBA tournament for both men and women. Alongside with the 3x3 tournament, we also had a preliminary 3-point contest that consisted of 22 participants. Based on the score of each participant, the top 7 players were selected as qualifiers for the actual 3-point contest, which was held on the 17thof December.

The main event was held on the 17thof December which consisted of Skills challenge, All Star game, Slam Dunk contest, and 3-point contest. The skills challenge consisted of 8 players, which involved 6 guards and 2 bigs. As for the All Star game, it was the most interesting part of the whole event, as us as fans got the opportunity to witness the stars of Bahraini basketball go head to head against each other. However, like the NBA, players typically do not take the game seriously even though the box score was pretty close. It was more of an entertainment show, and this was exactly what we needed to attract people towards the game of basketball and to make them understand — the game of basketball is more than just a game.

The Slam Dunk contest was very interesting. Every player had 1 minute to perform a dunk of their own choice, and at the end the judges presented their scores. Moving on to the 3-point contest, 7 players competed against each other and among those 7 players, 3 players qualified to the next round, where one player among the 3 players was crowned as the champion.

To me, the event was more than just a 3-point contest or a slam dunk contest or an All Star game. To me the event was so meaningful — I viewed it as a factor that significantly contributed to the progression of Bahraini basketball.

I was really astonished when I entered the arena; there was a huge number of attendants. More importantly, those attendants were a mixture of basketball fans and regular people who were attracted to the event. It was spectacular witnessing families with their kids as well as females attending the event. Typically in the Middle-Eastern communities, men are mostly the ones who attend sport events and matches, but in our event, it was totally the opposite. This indicates that the community in Bahrain is being more aware, knowledgeable, and attracted towards the game of basketball across all types of people.

Furthermore, we had notable guests who attended the event such as Rolando Blackman, 4x NBA AllStar/director of basketball development for the Dallas Mavericks, Vice president of the United Arab of Emirates basketball association, and the minister of Youth and Sports Affairs. Witnessing all of that made me become self-assured that the Bahraini basketball is moving on the right track and is compatible with the vision of the president of Bahrain Basketball Association, which is to develop the game of basketball in Bahrain.

I am totally certain that the efforts that his highness is putting into the game will pay off sooner or later. It is a matter of time and a matter of living the growth and trusting the process. Despite his efforts in expanding the basketball community in Bahrain, he is focusing extremely on improving the game of basketball in our country as well. He is sending different type of players to camps that take place in the overseas, enrolling players, coaches, and referees in different types of professional development programs to improve their performances. Moreover, the competition among basketball clubs is being solidified, as many clubs are having basketball as a priority among their strategies. In other words, he is building the right infrastructure that is needed to actually improve the game of basketball in Bahrain.

I am totally honored and grateful to be a part of an extraordinary team under an extraordinary leader in the association. It feels like living a dream that is becoming true. I mean, what’s better than doing what you love? Or witnessing what you have once dreamed of come into existence?

I was really never a fan of Bahraini Basketball and I pretty much didn’t follow any club, but I always wished that basketball in our country would evolve under the leadership of someone who is ambitious and passionate about basketball. I used to complain about authorized people that never treated basketball as a priority in our country. However, It didn’t last long when an ambitious and passionate man arrived at the presidency of the association and did exactly what is supposed to happen and elevated the game to another level. It’s phenomenal.

One might wonder, am I dedicating most of my time for the Association and praising its president because he is a member of our beloved royal family? Or perhaps is it for the sake of seeking his attention and recognition? Trust me, It’s bigger than that. It’s bigger than working in an Association and getting tasks done or working for something in return. It’s passion. It’s genuineness. It is simply because he deserves it and credit should be given where it’s due.

I am a person who is so ambitious and passionate about basketball, and I would like to invest all my passion in serving my beloved kingdom. I got the opportunity to serve my kingdom through doing what I am passionate about because of his highness. The reason I came back to writing after a break of two years is because of his encouraging words. His words created a spark inside of me that made me want to pursue my aspirations again. These are exactly the characteristics of a true and a transformational leader. Someone who makes those around him better and inspires them, helps them to achieve their goals, and most importantly someone who has the capability, skills, knowledge, determination, dedication, passion, ambition, background, and qualifications to lead the basketball in Bahrain to a bright future.

Honestly, no one believed in me and in my potential as much as his highness did, not even the closest people to me. Finding someone who believes in you, cares about you, and values what you bring to the table is such a blessing. That single belief is enough to keep me going through thin and thick. This is why to me, he’s more than a leader. I view him as my elder brother who wants the best for me and the best for our kingdom. A brother that I literally look up to.

I am literally speechless, I mean looking back at myself, how I started, and where am I now. It’s just unbelievable.