The Chester Biddy All-Star Team (12U), the local entity of the International Biddy League, won the Biddy National Championship in Kansas City, MO last month. This annual competition matches basketball teams comprised of boys and girls aged 14 and under from all over the world.
This victory marked the second time in the history of the International Biddy League that the Chester All-Stars have won the national title.
Although the team enjoyed a winning season locally, which determined their eligibility for the national tournament, there were significant financial obstacles that almost prevented the team from competing this year.
According to Malik Walker, the All Stars’ assistant coach, finances continue to challenge the team’s ability to grow.
“Coming from the City of Chester, there are many different hardships the families may already have. Traveling to Kansas City was tough for some of the kids to be able to come up with the finances for getting plane tickets and things of that nature. We were able to get Jameer Nelson to sponsor a decent percentage of the trip, so that was a blessing within itself.”
Walker suggests that while donations from Nelson and other professional basketball players who support the Biddy League are helpful, more support from local businesses is what the team needs.
“It takes the financial piece to be put in place to be able to do this; it’s not an easy task at all. I know a lot of pressure has been put on certain guys that [have] made it in the NBA, but we can’t continue to depend on those guys, I mean they have lives to lead as well. If we could get different businesses within the City of Chester to sponsor our teams…it’s a struggle just getting these guys uniforms to play in, and you hate to keep running to the parents last minute saying, ‘We need extra money to make this thing work.’ A lot of that could be nixed if we could just come together as one. At the end of the day, the first thing we all say is, ‘It’s all about the kids’, well let’s prove it.”
All of the young men on the team must adhere to a rigorous practice regimen and a game schedule that rivals the NBA, but for 12 year-old Donta Scott, the opportunity to play on the Biddy League means an additional sacrifice.
“One kid we have,” said Walker, “isn’t even from Chester. (Donta Scott is) from Norristown. He has progressed so much despite the burden of traveling from Norristown down to Chester by himself, and he’s only 12 years-old. His parents would put him on the bus to come to 69th St. (in Upper Darby). I’d meet him at 69th St., pick him up and bring him to practices or bring him to games, simply because they did not have transportation for him, so that kid there…he was a blessing.”
At the tournament, Scott received this year’s prestigious Mr. Biddy award, which recognizes players who display exceptional dedication and sportsmanship.
While in Kansas City, the team also visited both the College Basketball Hall of Fame and the Negro League Hall of Fame.
“The trip was an educational trip for these kids. They visited the Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame, and even though it wasn’t basketball, they learned that there was a lot of history in baseball as well. These guys didn’t know that Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson got their start playing Negro League Baseball and it was started right there with the Kansas City Monarchs, in the city that we were in.
“They were so excited to learn the history of the game of baseball, but a lot of them thought that baseball was a white person’s sport. They learned that a lot of ‘us’ could get up there and play baseball as well,” Walker said.