Youth participate in 'Street Olympics'

July 9, 2009 4:05:42 PM PDT
At the Fonde Community Center near downtown Houston on Thursday, 52 teams of kids were competing for a spot in the upcoming Harris County Street Olympics.From the starting whistle, pint-sized pros lay it all out on the court -- both boys and girls.

It's harder than it looks, and can be rough at times, but together they strategize their way to win.

"She's good at shooting," player Jocelyn Thompson said. "I'm good at defense and she's good at blocking."

Three hundred inner-city kids are playing in the Street Olympics three-on-three basketball championships, a decades-old summer program started by Precinct One Commissioner El Franco Lee.

"They're rubbing shoulders with police officials in a positive way, other social professionals and chaperones from outside their community," Lee said.

Brian Rego is the tournament director. He says the point of this game reaches beyond basketball "to teach teamwork [and] to teach getting along with people you hang with all the time. They don't get the vacations like a lot of other children."

And though games can get sticky, at least nine-year-old Raven August gets to play on a cool court.

There's no quitting and no sad faces.

"I'm here to win and have fun," player Daniel Fisher said.

After all, it's what they learn here that will help them on the sidelines later in life.

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