‘Around the world’ isn’t just a shooting drill for some Chatham-Kent basketball players.
It’s also where their next opponents come from.
The team of Grade 9-10 boys will be in Windsor this week for the International Children’s Games, which bring together 1,500 athletes from 32 countries.
“Our goal is to just go and enjoy ourselves and enjoy the experience,” coach Bob Barwick said. “I would love the surprise of playing on the Sunday, of playing in the medal games, but that's not the goal.”
Chatham-Kent is in a pool with Jerusalem; Florence, S.C.; Kelowna, B.C.; and Kitchener. The other pool includes Innsbruck, Austria, and Reykjavik, Iceland.
The players – Owen Dorssers, Liberty Rountree, Myles Dudley, Tyler Drew, Isaac Gamble, Anthony Atkinson, Chris Dedecker and Shawn Sedlacek – have been practising for two months.
“They’re pretty excited,” Barwick said. “I’ve got to be honest, more than half of them have been in the corn all summer. Then they come in here and run for two hours. They’ve given me all they’ve had.”
They'll march in the opening ceremonies Thursday, stay in dorms at the University of Windsor and sit down for meals with athletes from around the globe. They'll play four pool games Friday and Saturday.
“It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these kids,” team general manager Jamie Ireland said.
They'll wear Chatham-Kent Wildcats jerseys, but they're not playing for their club. All teams at the Children's Games represent their hometowns.
The municipality had to accept the Games invitation and pay 350 euros (roughly $480 Cdn). It took only two hours for C-K to say OK, Barwick said.
“I was totally impressed with how the city just jumped on board,” he said.
The team had to turn some players away. Rosters can have only eight.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Barwick said. “One of our goals since we started is just to represent Chatham well. We have a great group of boys.”
The players are not just from Chatham. They also hail from Blenheim, Wallaceburg and Pain Court.
“The great thing about it is ... it’s really a whole municipal team,” Barwick said.
They want to represent Canada as well, so a maple leaf was added to each jersey. Players also received new red and black warmup outfits.
“More than anything, I want them all to have a fabulous experience,” Barwick said.
The team sponsors are Entegrus, the Bluewater Bridge, the WISH Centre and Team Varsity Sales.