For a group of Trique Indian boys, Nike’s slogan ‘Just Do It” is applicable – minus the shoes, that is.
The Indian boys swept through a recent basketball tournament in Mexico, most of them playing the entire competition with no shoes on.
The boys won all six games of the 2013 Champions of the International Festival of Mini-Basketball.
Ernesto Merino, one of the teams’ coaches, said that because of their “shortcomings” many of the other teams in the tournament referred to the Trique Indian boys as ”the barefoot mice from Mexico,” according to WebProNews.com.
In addition to dribbling and jumping barefoot, the boys were also much shorter than most of their opponents. According to Examiner.com, the boys were less than 6 feet tall, but it was their raw skill, talent and determination that put them on top.
Merino said that to make up for their short stature the boys had ”strength, speed and resistance in an unmatched way.”
After joining the official team, all of the players were provided shoes to wear, but a majority of those on the team from Oaxaca’s Academy of Indigenous Basketball said that they were more comfortable playing with no shoes. Merino said that most of the boys were from poor families and grew up unable to play for clothes or shoes so they were “used to not having shoes; having to walk everywhere barefoot,” reported the Examiner.
The boys held balloons and waved flags as they celebrated their win. Their performance earned them a 60-second ovation yesterday on the floor of Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies.
They also received congratulations from Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who used Twitter to share and celebrate the team’s accomplishments.
“The victories of the Trique Indian team from Oaxaca’s Academy of Indigenous Basketball make Mexicans proud,” Nieto said in a tweet.
Trique people live in a mountainous region, called "La Mixteca Baja," in the southwestern part of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.
The boys are part of a program that was started three years ago to help Oaxaca’s poor. To enter the program, children must help with chores at home, get good grades in school, and speak their native tongue.
"We see a basketball as an opportunity to grow in life," Merino told The Huffington Post. "We want them to be prepared in life.”