For an Englishman, there are certain sports that you’re more likely than not born into liking. soccer (or more appropriately: football), cricket, rugby and squash are just a few examples. Over in the United States of America and its neighbors-by-boarder have their own roster of sports. Basketball, hockey and American football of course. Each continent then has its own share of other far-off countries that relish in the aforementioned sports. For sake of this post, the example would be the Philippines and Basketball. Having lived in the South-East Asian country for 25 years, British-born photographer Richard James Daniels often wondered why Basketball was such a mainstay activity there for all generations, while other S.E.A countries opt for soccer.
In a bid to discover that culture, Daniels set about capturing the hoop dreams of rural Philippines through images of rudimentary hoop set-ups across the land. From “grass roots courts of the impoverished villages in the Visayan Region” to single hoops haphazardly pinned up in the backyards of rural neighborhoods and squatters areas. While the notion of a hand-made or recycled basketball hoop nailed up against any vertical post high enough to warrant an actual shot isn’t necessarily new (hell, give us some twine and some blue tack and we’re good to go!), the images Daniels captures shows much more than the just the hoop itself. They showcase how far the love and passion for the sport stretches to, where kids unable to even buy sneakers, let alone an official hoop, will go out of their way to MacGyver there own way to play the game. A real “ball is life” approach.
These backboards are usually placed on trees as the support structure, and as a result, the hoops actually increase in height as the tree continues to grow.
Going through the images, you’ll notice the ingenuity of those that have crafted their own hoops, often without a court. As Daniels puts it, “In most cases there is no actual “court” as such. These areas are usually very inaccessible and often off limits. The hoops and backboards are made from whatever material is available and are continuously recycled.” Even trees count as a post! “These backboards are usually placed on trees as the support structure, and as a result, the hoops actually increase in height as the tree continues to grow.”
The project itself, which is dubbed Baskitan – Basketball Courts of the Philippines, is actually still ongoing, with over 300 hoops and courts from all over the country already documented. While single hoops are the main subject, Daniels explains that the project also has a sub set of images that focus specifically on backboards. At the end of it all Daniels aims to compile his archive into a book and zine, which he hopes to accomplish by the end of the year. In the meantime, we’ve selected a number of our favorites from the project as a whole, which you can check out throughout the post.
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