By: V. Hassun
The moment all St Paul’s athletes wait enthusiastically for, the ISSL tournament. This tournament composes of 8 international schools around Brazil. The schools include the St. Paul’s Lions, PASPOA Huskies, PASB Panthers, British Barra Falcons, British Urca Falcons, Nations Cougars, OLM Lancers, and EABH Hawks. These teams would play against each other for four days, but only one would leave with the trophy.
This year was the first time that most of us went to the ISSL, but this did not bring us down. After a lifetime on the bus, we arrived at NR, ready to take the trophy home. Since we did not know any of the teams we were playing, we had to enter every game extra focused and ready to face whatever was thrown at us.
During the group phase, we faced both British schools, Barra and Urca, and we faced PASPOA. We met with two teams on the first full day at ISSL. Our first game was against British Barra, which was challenging because they were all very strong and fast. However, we pulled through and did our best, winning the match 21x8. The second game of the day was in the afternoon against PASPOA, and we did a phenomenal job and won the game 41x11. These outstanding results put us right on top of our key. In between games, our very focused basketball team also went to study periods and cheered for the boys in their games, who also thrived, winning all games. After a very successful day, we rested and got mentally ready for the games ahead, in which we would have to face one more team in our key and then go to the semi-finals.
Considering the rush of everything that happens in the ISSL, we had been doing exceptionally well in adapting and overcoming their difficulties. On the second full day, we had a game in the morning against British Urca. It was a challenging game because all of us were tired, but we still did a great job and won 29x5. We went straight to the semi-finals, making victory closer each time. In the afternoon, our lions discovered we would play the semi-finals against OLM, a school that we did not know about and had not played with yet, so we all knew that we had to arrive at the game with a strong mindset and be prepared for whatever happened. We played a fantastic match and won the semi-finals with 46x16. So, the St Paul’s lions, boys and girls went straight to the FINALS!
The last day, the saddest day but at the same time the most exciting one. The day of the final. The basketball lions woke up early in the morning and had already started to prepare for our game; we knew that we would play against British Barra, a team we had already played against once.
We arrived at the gym and started warming up. When the game started, all we could hear was the loud cheer from the opposing team, but this did not bring us down. We used this as strength to play the best games of our lives. Even with the anxiety growing, we knew that this moment was what we had trained for all those weeks. All those long hours of training sessions would pay off once we had the gold medal wrapped around our necks.
Our defence started strong, and soon our attack took control of the court. The game was steady the whole time, with us having about a few points in advantage.
The moment we heard the timer end and the referee whistle, we knew that that was the moment we won the ISSL tournament. The game ended 39x14, and we were champions of the ISSL; for the first time in many years, we took the gold medal home.
Our whole team felt fulfilled and proud of ourselves as our hard work to reach the gold medal paid off!
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