I still remember the year where I began writing about Basketball for WTLC in 2014, and I still remember that 2014 was the year where I graduated from high school and decided to pursue sports journalism as a career. I was passionate about being a sports writer, I wanted to be able to do what sports journalists do. I used to envision myself attending NBA press conferences, games, and interviewing players. It also felt amazing that in that particular year, WTLC began gaining a lot of exposure in the basketball space, which provided us as staff writers with opportunities such as receiving credentials to attend NBA games, press conferences, and the NBA Draft. But I also cannot deny how bad I felt as those opportunities were useless to me, not because I wasn’t qualified, but because I lived overseas and I had to be living in the USA to be able to attend those NBA games and press conferences.
However, everything still made sense given that I was an A student in high school, I knew getting a scholarship was well within reach. I didn’t lose hope. In fact, I immediately began searching for the top universities in the USA in sports journalism major that I could enroll in.
As expected, I got a scholarship, but what type of scholarship? I didn’t know. All I knew was that I had to undergo an interview with individuals from the Ministry of Education. When interview day has arrived, I was ready, and the first thing that was said to me was “Introduce yourself .”
I began talking about my personal traits, hobbies etc. and then moved on to talk about my sports writing career where I mentioned to them what kind of sports I write about and for what websites and newspapers and even the opportunities that come along with those websites and newspapers. Later, I was asked about the type of scholarship that I am pursuing. And the first sentence that came out of my mouth was “Do you guys offer scholarships to the United States of America?” I felt such a relief when their answer was “Yes we do, go ahead, continue with your answer.”
I informed them that I would like to get a scholarship to the USA, sports journalism major as that was my passion, and through that passion I could actually be the first Bahraini sports journalist that covers the NBA in the USA. I received an impressive feedback from those individuals and was asked to wait for the results. I was really happy and couldn’t wait until the results were out.
Results came out online, and the first thing I noticed was that all the scholarships offered were among the Middle-east region only, and not a single scholarship offered was related to sports journalism. Yup, life just hit me with the biggest plot twist that I could ever imagine. My dreams were shattered, I was disappointed, I had a lot of “why’s” and “what if’s” going on in my mind, but I had no other choice except to make a decision.
Fall down 7 times, get up 8. I decided to go with the scholarship that offered me a major in Business Administration at University of Bahrain. I knew adapting to such diverse university was going to be extremely difficult for me, given that I graduated from an American private school in Bahrain, but I had no other choice. I am not the type of person who would give up just because of “life.” I formed a plan B for myself and for my future and decided to go with it.
How did my plan B turn out? It went far beyond my expectations, and I fell in love with my major. I was blessed with many opportunities at the University of Bahrain, making it to the student council as the Head of the Academic Committee, and engaging with the university’s top management in the planning process of developing and improving the university worldwide ranking. I also represented the college of Business in several competitions. I am about to graduate this month with a first class honors degree.
My career and goals shifted drastically, but this shift didn’t change my passion towards sports writing. And when I met his Highness Prince Isa Bin Ali, who is literally the reason behind my entire unexpected comeback to the field of sports writing, my life’s dreams began to come full circle.
Sky is the limit for this inspirational and true leader as Bahrain just hosted Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters, who are a professional basketball team in the Philippine Basketball Association. The team played two friendly games against the best two teams in our Bahraini league, which are Manama and Muharraq. I was extremely lucky to be invited to a press conference in which I finally got the opportunity to do what I always dreamed of doing.
At my first press conference, I finally got the chance to raise questions, interview players and coaches, and spend some time with them. It made me reminisce the moments where I used to envision myself attending press conferences and interviewing players and coaches. It certainly felt wonderful to be able to do such thing under the name of my country and association.
As for the games, both Manama (96-91) and Muharraq (67-63) came out victorious, which indicates that the teams in our league are actually developing and are getting more competitive. To me, those games were more than just friendly games, they were part of the plan of the vision of his highness, which is to develop the game of Basketball in Bahrain. If we want our teams to perform well on an international level, then they must be exposed to play against high caliber teams.
Such friendly games also exposes the players and the coaching staff to a new way of playing style, new experiences, helps them identify their weaknesses, and prepares them as well if they were to compete internationally.
Other than that, it was spectacular to witness fans from a different segment attending the games. The arena was packed with Asian fans. It was a win-win situation for both the people who came to watch the game and for the association as well. From a fans perspective, it was an absolute entertaining enjoyed by all. From an association point view, such event contributed to the development of both teams as well as it helped attracting a new segment of fans to the Bahraini league.
It is a fact that I couldn’t pursue my sports journalism career in the USA, but it is also a fact that I have been blessed with a better way, working under the umbrella of his highness, and working for my country’s basketball association. Moreover, I am blessed to be able to use my passion to represent and serve my country, as well as contribute in improving the game of Basketball in Bahrain. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and everything that happened to me in the past was just an ending for a new beginning.
I would like to thank the President of Bahrain’s Basketball Association His Highness Prince Isa Bin Ali for his outstanding initiative. I wouldn’t be surprised if our country hosted a game against an NBA team in the future. We are grateful for having a leader who is keen on building the necessary infrastructure and offering the necessary resources required for the growth of the game and the development of the teams from every aspect. His actions say it all.