Malian Women Go Back to Playing Basketball after Islamist Invasion

October 23, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. occupation /ɒkjʊˈpeɪʃ(ə)n/ (n.) – the act of invading a territory and taking control of its government
Example: The occupation of the terrorists in the country brought fear and panic among the people.

2. out and about /aʊt ənd əˈbaʊt/ (adj.) – engaging in normal activity after not being able to do so for a while
Example: After months of rest because of injury, the player is seen out and about.

3. buzz /bʌz/ [buhz] (v.) – to have a lot of noise and activity
Example: After the announcement, the players were buzzing with cheerful conversation.

4. ongoing /ˈɒnˌɡəʊɪŋ/ (adj.) – continuous; still happening
Example: Travelling to the area is not advised because of the ongoing war. 

5. insecurity /ˌɪnsɪˈkjɚrəti/ (n.) – feeling of being in a dangerous situation
Example: The presence of armed rebels on the street caused insecurity among the people.


Read the text below.
After ten months of Islamist occupation in Gao, Mali, female basketball players are now out and about playing basketball. 

The al-Qaida [al-KEY-duh, -KAHY-duh]-linked Islamist group sparked conflicts in Gao in 2012. During this time, the city was forced to follow certain rules such as the prohibition of women to wear revealing clothes and the banning of males and females to socially mix. Those who would fail to obey these rules would be lashed out in public or would have their hands cut off.

The dress code especially affected the training of female basketball players. Mariam Maiga [MAR-ee-uh m MEY guh], 18, commented that they were not allowed to wear shorts and tank tops during the game.

Now that the situation is under control, Cissé’s [SIS-ee] sports center is now buzzing again with activities. Unfortunately, the female team lost most of its best players because of the ongoing tension in the north. In addition, economic situation in Gao is still rough and it will take a while before the city fully recovers.

Despite this, retired coach Oumer [OW-mer] Cissé is optimistic that the team will regain its strength little by little since Gao has many potential players.  

Amidst occasional fighting in other areas of Mali, the team was glad to have friendly competitions with neighboring towns. According to Cissé, the team can play an important role in helping the youths give positive contributions instead of being lured by the army.

Although the extremists have left the area, insecurity still lingers. One player said they used to play until 9 or 10 at night; but now, they have to finish early. In addition, a French army vehicle passes by opposite the court because rebels are believed to be recruiting civilians. 

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         If you were a female basketball player in Gao, Mali, would you still play for the team? Why or why not?
·         What do you think the team should do to encourage other players to join the team?

Discussion B

·         How do you think the youth can be motivated to give positive contributions in the community amidst political difficulties?
·         What activities or programs are open for the youth in your area?

October 23, 2014