Basketball Unites Djiboutian, U.S. People

ALI SABIEH, Djibouti (June 8, 2012) - A resident of Ali Sabieh dribbles up the court during a basketball game with the U.S. Army Civil Affairs Team 4903 at the Middle School court June 8. The basketball game was a way for the children of Ali Sabieh to get to know the CAT service members, to stay active and have something to look forward to during their break from school. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss) CJTF-HOA Photo ALI SABIEH, Djibouti (June 8, 2012) - A resident of Ali Sabieh dribbles up the court during a basketball game with the U.S. Army Civil Affairs Team 4903 at the Middle School court June 8. The basketball game was a way for the children of Ali Sabieh to get to know the CAT service members, to stay active and have something to look forward to during their break from school. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss)
ALI SABIEH, Djibouti (June 8, 2012) - Residents of Ali Sabieh attempt to block the shot of U.S. Army Spc. Leland Booher, Civil Affairs Team 4903 team member, during a game at the Middle School courts June 8. Friday is a holy day and gives the citizens of Ali Sabieh a day off and provides an opportunity for the CAT to engage them while they have free time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss) CJTF-HOA Photo ALI SABIEH, Djibouti (June 8, 2012) - Residents of Ali Sabieh attempt to block the shot of U.S. Army Spc. Leland Booher, Civil Affairs Team 4903 team member, during a game at the Middle School courts June 8. Friday is a holy day and gives the citizens of Ali Sabieh a day off and provides an opportunity for the CAT to engage them while they have free time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss)
ALI SABIEH, Djibouti (June 8, 2012) - Residents of Ali Sabieh attempt to block a shot as U.S. Army Spc. Leland Booher, Civil Affairs Team 4903 team member, shoots a two pointer at the Middle School June 8. The basketball game was a way for the children of Ali Sabieh to get to know the CAT service members, to stay active and have something to look forward to during their break from school. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss) CJTF-HOA Photo ALI SABIEH, Djibouti (June 8, 2012) - Residents of Ali Sabieh attempt to block a shot as U.S. Army Spc. Leland Booher, Civil Affairs Team 4903 team member, shoots a two pointer at the Middle School June 8. The basketball game was a way for the children of Ali Sabieh to get to know the CAT service members, to stay active and have something to look forward to during their break from school. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss)
ALI SABIEH, Djibouti (June 8, 2012) - A resident of Ali Sabieh shoots the ball as U.S. Army Spc. Leland Booher, Civil Affairs Team 4903 team member, jumps for a block at the Middle School courts, June 8. The weekly basketball games happen on Fridays and have been played every Friday since March. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss) CJTF-HOA Photo ALI SABIEH, Djibouti (June 8, 2012) - A resident of Ali Sabieh shoots the ball as U.S. Army Spc. Leland Booher, Civil Affairs Team 4903 team member, jumps for a block at the Middle School courts, June 8. The weekly basketball games happen on Fridays and have been played every Friday since March. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss)
ALI SABIEH, Djibouti (June 8, 2012) - A resident of Ali Sabieh dribbles the ball around U.S. Army Civil Affairs Team 4903 as they play a game of basketball game at the Middle School, June 8. The basketball game was a way for the children of Ali Sabieh to get to know the CAT service members, to stay active and have something to look forward to during their break from school. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss)  CJTF-HOA Photo ALI SABIEH, Djibouti (June 8, 2012) - A resident of Ali Sabieh dribbles the ball around U.S. Army Civil Affairs Team 4903 as they play a game of basketball game at the Middle School, June 8. The basketball game was a way for the children of Ali Sabieh to get to know the CAT service members, to stay active and have something to look forward to during their break from school. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss)
ALI SABIEH, Djibouti (June 24, 2012) - A member of the white team, a resident of Ali Sabieh, finds a hole in the U.S. Army Civil Affairs Team 4903 basketball team's defense during a tournament June 24.  The tournament involved 12 teams, was single elimination and was a two-day event starting June 24 and ending July 1. (U.S. military courtesy photo) CJTF-HOA Photo ALI SABIEH, Djibouti (June 24, 2012) - A member of the white team, a resident of Ali Sabieh, finds a hole in the U.S. Army Civil Affairs Team 4903 basketball team's defense during a tournament June 24. The tournament involved 12 teams, was single elimination and was a two-day event starting June 24 and ending July 1. (U.S. military courtesy photo)

Sports can bring people together and help them get to know one another through a common interest. That's been the case for a group of soldiers assigned to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa and some Djiboutians.

Local school aged children and young males gathered with members of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs Team 4903 to play a game of basketball at the Ali Sabieh Middle School public court June 8.

The basketball game was an opportunity for the children and young adults to get to know the CAT service members, remain active, and have something to look forward to during their break from school.

"These basketball games gave the youngsters something to do. Besides having block rock wars with each other," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Stanislava Ilic-Godfrey, 4903 CAT team sergeant and resident of Washington, D.C.

CAT 4903 members have been playing basketball with the children and young adults of Ali Sabieh weekly for some time now.

"We've actually been playing basketball every Friday since March," said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Xochitl Barragan, 4903 CAT team leader and native of Ft. Worth, Texas.

Friday is ideal due to the free time available to the residents of Ali Sabieh.

"Friday is their holy day and gives them a day off, [which] gives us an option of engaging them while they have free time," said U.S. Army Spc. Leland Booher, Civil Affairs Team 4903 team member from McKinney, Texas.

Due to the high continuous turnout, the Djiboutian ministry of youth and sports organizer, Ibrahim Abdourahman, organized a tournament among 12 teams, including the CAT 4903 members.

"It was Ibrahim's brain child. We've actually been playing basketball every Friday since March, and it was Ibrahim who came up with the idea of a tournament," Barragan said.

With the help of the U.S. Embassy, Ibrahim purchased jerseys for 12 teams, polo shirts for the officials, basketballs, whistles, paint, nets, trophies, medals, as well as a disk jockey and cakes for the ceremony afterward.

The two-day tournament was held June 24 and July 1. A large number of players and spectators turned out both days for the event.

"It was a great way to unify the community by playing on friendly terms and getting to know each other on a personal level," Barragan said. "The [people of Ali Sabieh] showed their support and good sportsmanship. People came to watch, brought their kids and stayed [the whole time]."

The basketball games have provided a backdrop for personal change in the citizens of Ali Sabieh, according to one soldier.

"I've heard from several teachers about a man who quit his [drug] addiction in order to play basketball with the Americans," said Barragan. "We hear stories [all the time] of how this person and that person want to change."

Not only were the people of Ali Sabieh affected by the games but CAT 4903 discovered changes within themselves and their unit.

"The tournament was the [most memorable event] for the whole team, we loved it. It was a nice, relaxed atmosphere. The whole experience has been very rewarding," said Barragan.

Tags

U.S. Army Djibouti

We suggest

U.S. Marines strengthen Djiboutian Army by leading joint bilateral academy course in Africa

The U.S. Marine Corps is arguably one of the most revered institutions within the U.S. Department of Defense. So, when Combined Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) leadership recently welcomed members of the Djibouti Armed Forces (FAD) into the U.S. Marine Corps Corporals Course, it was a distinct honor.

U.S., Japanese, French, Italian militaries partner for first multilateral NEO exercise in Africa

Initiated by the Japanese military, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) supported a joint-nation noncombatant evacuation operation (NEO) exercise and training here, Sept. 29.

CJTF-HOA civil affairs veterinarians assist in diminishing animal disease, overpopulation in Djibouti

The Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa’s 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion (CAB) Functional Specialty Group (FXSP) veterinarians spayed, dewormed and immunized the cats of Caritas Djibouti here, Aug 30.

U.S. Army, French Soldiers complete initial phase of French Desert Commando Course

Nineteen U.S. Army Soldiers successfully completed the first phase of the French Desert Commando Course alongside French partners at the Centre Dentrainment Au Combat Djibouti (CECAD), in Arta Plage, Djibouti April 23, 2018.

Keeping the Faith

Deputy command chaplain for U.S. Africa Command engages with key leaders and local practitioners of the Islamic faith during a week-long temporary duty assignment to Djibouti, Africa to take part in USAFRICOM’s Cutlass Express 2017 exercise.