Despite being undersized and shoeless (for the most part), the Trique Indian boys squad participating at this year's International Festival of Mini-Basketball in South America not only competed; they won the tournament, according to MSN.com.
No, this wasn't some "Do you believe in miracles?" situation or March Madness Cinderella moment. The boys were dominant, winning all six of their games en route to claiming the championship.
The team, which hails from an outlying region in Oaxaca, Mexico, was referred to as "the barefoot mice" by other competing teams because of their lack of size and footwear.
Surprisingly, the reason a majority of the players opted to play barefoot wasn't because they were too poor to afford proper footwear. Rather, growing up as Trique Indians in Oaxaca, the boys are barefoot more often than not and therefore are more comfortable without shoes.
Shoes are a luxury where these boys come from, according to Eduardo Castillo of the Associated Press:
...[T]he boys who played at the tournament held in Cordoba, Argentina, are part of a basketball program designed to help poor children in Oaxaca, which is one of Mexico's poorest and most marginalized areas. The Oaxaca state government gives them tennis shoes, uniforms and a monthly $46 stipend.
At the end of the day, their win earned them plaudits from some high-ranking officials in the Mexican government and the federation who put the tournament on, per Castillo:
The team's performance won it a minute of applause Wednesday on the floor of Mexico's Chamber of Deputies, as well as accolades from Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and basketball experts.
"The victories of the Trique Indian team from Oaxaca's Academy of Indigenous Basketball make Mexicans proud," Pena Nieto said in a tweet.
Horacio Muratore, president of the International Basketball Federation-Americas, which organizes the annual tournament, said the boys were the best players.
"These boys deserved (the championship) more than anyone," Muratore wrote on the organization's website.
The Trique Indian boys' impressive victory proves that it isn't the shoes that make the baller, but the other way around. And that's refreshing in a day and age where basketball sneakers can leave a three-figure dent in your bank account.
There's also an important lesson to be learned from the reigning International Festival of Mini-Basketball champions, and that is that effort and desire beat out style and traction every time.
Congratulations to this dominant group on a job well done.
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