What is it like playing basketball in ALBA Berlin, one of the largest and most notable German national basketball clubs, and balancing school life? We speak with 11-grader Lily Dreier about her passion in basketball and her life in GESS.
How did this opportunity with ALBA Berlin come about, and what was it like training with them?
ALBA Berlin has been partners with GESS since 2020. However, the pandemic put this collaboration on hold for a while. Thankfully, with new norms in place and everything opening up again, GESS and ALBA Berlin have revived the partnership and on-court activities.
My PE teachers Mr Thomas Teichert and Mr Craig Barry, and my basketball coach Noel, made contact with Mr Cristo Cabrera who is the head coach of the women’s Bundesliga team. This paved the way for me to train with the Bundesliga team in Berlin during summer.
While the arrangements came with very tight timelines and short notice, I am thankful everything worked out perfectly and I could not be happier with the opportunities I was given. I am also very grateful to everyone who helped me through that period and made my training with ALBA a truly memorable experience.
For that very first training – which I hope is not the last – my parents and I visited Berlin for four days, and I trained with the women’s team on all days. We did a variety of drills, focusing on something different each day – such as shooting, ball handling and finishing. We also played 3v3 or 2v2.
I really enjoyed training with ALBA Berlin. Everyone there was extremely nice and welcoming. The atmosphere was very professional and coach Youseff gave tips on how to improve. What also came as a positive surprise to me was the high international standard. For one, the training is conducted in English and the players are from all over the world. On my last day, coach Youseff told me that I should come and pay ALBA Berlin a visit whenever I am in Germany.
How often is your basketball training (in and out of GESS)? And how do you balance your school life with your sport pursuit?
In Singapore, I currently have basketball training five times a week. In addition, we have games throughout the week during the season.
I train with both the GESS school team and the basketball club Proform. The latter is responsible for basketball at our school, which means we work with the same coaches who are absolutely great and supportive, and can help keep an eye on my performance to help me improve.
Although I love basketball, it can occasionally get very stressful when it comes to balancing school life with sport. Since starting Grade 11, my school days are longer and there is more work we have to do. I generally try to plan when I do my school work beforehand.
What I think is most important, is finding the right balance between school and your passion. Neither of the two should be having a large negative impact on the other. I often end up with less free time, however I am okay with this because playing basketball, for me, is one of the best ways to spend my time meaningfully.
How do you see sport playing a role in your personal development as an individual, and even academically?
I definitely consider playing sport to have a very positive impact on my personal development. Not only does basketball incorporate values like teamwork and communication, it also underlines the importance of commitment and respect.
Additionally, I have become better at planning and organising my time, so I can manage school work with sport.
Furthermore, I would say basketball helps me focus on something other than school and brings variety into my day. Playing basketball generally makes me happy and I believe a good mindset also plays a big role when it comes to academic motivation.
How have GESS/your teachers/classmates helped you in your sport pursuit / when you need to balance time between studying and training?
Finding the right balance between studying and training can be hard. I think it is something one has to figure out in order to find a good routine.
I have certainly had immense support from others when it comes to my sport pursuit. GESS has also helped with its facilities and connections, like the collaboration with ALBA Berlin. Mr Teichert and Mr Barry have also been very supportive, particularly creating this opportunity for me with ALBA.
I also want to acknowledge my coach Noel and the other coaches, who have constantly encouraged me to push myself and improve my game. Last but not least, my parents and friends are always here for me when I need them.
To any young person who is thinking of pursuing their sport/passion, what is your word of encouragement?
Always keep going!
If pursuing the sport/passion makes you happy, you should 100% continue doing it. And do so against the odds and challenges.
While I do understand, I think its sad that so many students give up their passion as it might seem incompatible with school. From my personal experience, even though you do have to work harder, pursuing your passion can help you in many ways. You form connections with other people, learn life skills and guess what – improve your mood. Besides, who knows what opportunities can come your way 🙂