Men’s Basketball Team Helps Build Court for Kids in Panama

Men's Basketball team in Panama

Living out their team motto, “MBFO” (“Men Built for Others”), members of the university’s men’s basketball team left the comforts of home this summer to spend eight days in the impoverished community of El Chorro, Panama, building a multi-purpose sports court.

All 16 players on the roster, joined by head coach Maco Hamilton and two assistant coaches, lived in host homes and teamed with a local construction crew and community members to build a court that will serve as a safe place for children to play. Previously, the isolated town of 700 had only an improvised dirt court with wooden hoops.

Men's Basketball team builds court in Panama

“The research shows that giving kids a place to play makes a huge impact on communities,” Hamilton says. “It lowers the violence, creates opportunities for them, brings people closer together. Sports have such a huge impact on lives across the globe, and the kids of this community had little to nothing in terms of facilities.”

The concrete court – designed for basketball, volleyball and soccer – was built through Courts for Kids, a national organization whose mission is to “transform lives through building courts and cultural exchange.” This was the first such trip for the men’s program; the George Fox women’s team constructed a court in Ghana in 2008.

In addition to prepping the site and pouring concrete, the George Fox crew had the opportunity to interact with host families, visit an orphanage and – with cell phones turned off and the temptation of social media removed – bond with one another around games and friendly competitions. “A few of us were in a race to see who could get the most bug bites. I think I won, with 40-something,” Hamilton laughs.

For Hamilton and the Bruins, the trip accomplished two things: The team grew closer together and the Bruins learned in a tangible, hands-on way what “MBFO” means.

Men's Basketball team builds court in Panama

“We want all our guys to leave our program as servant-leaders,” says Hamilton, who serves on the Courts for Kids board. “We want to debunk the typical societal view of what it means to be a man, which is being macho, showing no emotion, attaining success at a high level, seeking prestige. We want our guys to understand that being a man is about being emotional, having compassion for people, serving, sacrificing, and being impactful in your societies and in your communities.”

“That’s why this trip was so important,” Hamilton continues. “It got us outside our comfort zones and reminded us of the importance of serving others – of doing something for someone else.”

Hamilton hopes to make a Courts for Kids trip about every three or four years, allowing all players coming through the program to experience it at least once.