Triqui Indian Basketball Players Fight On
Monday, December 23, 2013
The Triqui Indian boys basketball team arrived at USC as part of a U.S. trip that was equal parts basketball and education.
Coming from a Rio Venado, Mexico – a village with only 400 residents but five basketball courts – the 17 players, ranging in age from seven to twelve, toured the campus with their coach Sergio Zuniga.
Billy Vela, director of El Centro Chicano, reported that the “boys were elated to be on campus, were excited to see the McKay Center and know that USC athletes practice here, and were thankful for the welcome and gifts they received. They also learned how and why we say “Fight on!’”
After their campus tour, sponsored by El Centro Chicano, Office of Admission, Civic Engagement and USC Athletics, the team headed to the Staples Center to play against the Lakers at halftime.
Known as the “Barefoot Giants of the Mountains,” the Triqui team has gained international fame, winning the International Festival of Mini-Basketball in Argentina as well as other tournaments. But Coach Zuniga, who founded the Mexican Indigenous Basketball Academy for both boys and girls three years ago, has made education his first priority. All students must earn the right to play by getting good grades.
That’s why this U.S. tour is about much more than hoop dreams, Vela said. “In the end they are going back to a region of Mexico that is poor. They don’t have a lot of opportunity there, so this raises awareness in these kids of education and the world.”