Ever since there has been athletes, the love of sports has transcended borders and has brought cultures — who may have never interacted with each other — together for the love of a game.
On Saturday, the Farmington Civic Center will become an ambassador for the Parkland Area as a youth team from Antwerp Belgium comes to play basketball in the Belgium Hoopfest.
Since Monday, 12 young players between the ages of 12 and 14, have been staying in the homes of host families as part of a 10-day, three-city tour to learn how Americans play basketball, but more importantly, to learn about a culture different from their own.
“For our kids, it gives them the experience of seeing how American basketball is different than ours,” said Robert Hubrecht, International Athletic Foundation president, who helped arrange the tournament, “American basketball is more intense. We may have the height, but the American players have the strength.”
Over a period of 10 days — from July 7 – 17 — the Antwerp players will participate in three tournaments. The first was held in Decatur, Illinois, on July 9; the second is the Belgium Hoopfest in Farmington on Saturday; and the third will be in St. Louis on Sunday.
Like most people who travel internationally, these Belgium athletes have discovered there’s many things that are different compared to the life they left behind in Antwerp.
“They are overwhelmed,” Hubrecht said. “First of all, the houses are bigger than they know. We have large homes but they are multiple million Euro houses.”
In addition, the players were also surprised by the distance one could travel in the Unites States as compared to Belgium and its surrounding countries.
“When we landed in in St. Louis on Friday, we took the vans to Decatur and had a tournament,” Hubrecht said. “On Monday, we drove to Farmington. If you…