Living and Learning Through Basketball
Exchange student from Japan dribbles basketball in Arkansas high school game

Watch Riku drain a three

I joined the basketball team in November. My team practiced for two hours, five times a week. I only knew how to play soccer, but since I was young, I had wanted to play basketball. But I never played it.

My host family’s uncle taught me very kindly as a coach. Also, my teammates were very interesting and kind, and if I didn’t understand something in practice, they immediately taught me. They started playing basketball when they were little and are very good at it.

Not only was it fun but running and the workout during practice was pretty tough. I was surprised that basketball was more tiring than I expected. I’ve seen basketball games in Japan for some time, but I think the games in the United States are more powerful.

Another thing that was different was the support of the audience. Americans are so enthusiastic about the game. When their sons and daughters score points, they are more than happy. That’s what makes Americans so good and why I like them.

The most difficult thing I found was defense. Since the rules are different from soccer, I used to foul at the beginning. The trick to defending well is to always stand between your opponent and the goal.

I am very happy to have experienced basketball. I think that communication and how to raise morale are similar in soccer and basketball, and I had a very good experience.

Also, I will never forget the feeling when I scored a three-point shot in a game for the first time. I will tell my brother about that when I return to Japan.

—Riku (Japan), hosted by the Haddix family (AR)