95, Issue 1
Thursday, May 24, 2001
Mustangs bridge culture gap
The Western Mustangs women's basketball team has been exposed – but this time it wasn't at the hands of the competition.
The squad was at the mercy of a power much more intimidating than the pressures of the hardwood floor – the Japanese culture. The separation between the two extremely divergent cultures isn't represented only by the thousands of kilometres it takes to reach the island, but also by the polar opposites in every facet of life.
The Japanese civilization is completely alien to the majority of Canadians, and forward Joanne Chehade was quick to point out the difficulty becoming acclimated to it.
"It was difficult to understand their language, so we needed a translator at all times," Chehade said. "Their culture was also completely different. The trip was a great learning experience."
Gazette File Photo
The Mustangs embarked on their ten-day trek to Osaka primed for revenge after falling to the Osaka University of Health and Sports Sciences Spartans in 1998 at Alumni Hall.
Unfortunately, a change of venue wasn't conducive to success as the winner of the Kansai region was too overwhelming for the Mustangs, winning international bragging rights 79-61.
Centre Lindsay Kennedy led the Mustang charge with ten points, while guard Cindy Scott and forward Holli Clarkson added eight and five points respectively.
The Mustangs were quick to sway the tide in their favour though, when they regrouped and triumphed in a spirited 77-65 victory over the Sonada Women's University team in the second and final duel of their excursion.
Kennedy's offensive prowess was once again on exhibition, as she tickled the twine with 22 points. Clarkson added a solid ten points to send the Mustangs home with the split.
Coach Bob Delaney fully expected the trip to cede these results. "The first team we played was extremely good, and was even missing a player who was trying-out for the junior national team. I expected the split, but missing some of our key players [guard Laura Verbeeten, guard Sarah Lercara, guard Amy Ball and centre Anne Van Luewwen] did hinder our chances."
The Japanese display many differences in their culture and their style of play on the basketball court is no different. Chehade was quick to point these out. "Every player on their teams can shoot the three-point shot and they do it with two hands. They also play a quicker, more up-tempo style."
With life seemingly in the fast lane at every waking moment and competition at its most epic proportions, sometimes the realization basketball is just a game is lost. The beauty and serenity of a nation's culture is staring at the world, awaiting its chance to be unleashed. The Mustangs heeded this warning.
"The value of this trip was unbelievable," Delaney said. "The cultural aspects were much more important than the basketball competition."
It was once said "the world is our oyster." The Mustang women took it
to heart, and are all the more cultured for it.
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