A group of shoeless Indian boys faced long odds when they showed up to a youth basketball tournament in Argentina.
The group of Trique Indian boys from Mexico did not have the fancy practice facilities as their opponents, the nice jerseys or even proper equipment. But the team from the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca pulled off the ultimate underdog story, winning all six of its games to take the championship at the International Festival of Mini-Basketball.
Aside from their lack of equipment, the shoeless Indian boys had another mark against them, said their coach Ernesto Merino. They were much smaller than the other players — so much that the other teams nicknamed them the “barefoot mice from Mexico” — but they made up for the deficiency with superior speed and strength.
Merino added that the boys were all given tennis shoes as part of their basketball program, but because they come from poor areas and are used to going barefoot all the time, they felt more comfortable going without them.
On Wednesday, the floor of Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies acknowledged the boys with a full minute of applause, and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has also praised them.
”The victories of the Trique Indian team from Oaxaca’s Academy of Indigenous Basketball make Mexicans proud,” Pena Nieto said in a tweet.
The shoeless Indian boys may have walked away with a trophy, but Merino said those in the state’s youth basketball program get even more. The program is run by the state government, with the intention to give kids a chance to learn life lessons and be part of a team.