Onlookers peer through the yellow fence as prior to a Semi-Finals game at the Jafiliyah Baskbetball Court in Satwa. The court is central to many of the Satwa residents’ social lives. Basketball is an intrinsic part of physical education in the Philippines, and many expat Filipinos feel that the games unite men and their families and friends together.
A member of the Black team helps their Captain, Benji Bogal stretch prior to a finals match between the Black and Blue teams of the Jafiliyah Baskbetball Championship in Satwa.The basketball court is known as a “Tamabayan” – in Tagalog meaning a place to hang out and not necessarily do anything. The Black team ended up winning the championship.
Benji Bogal, Captain of the Black team leads a prayer during half-time of a game during a match at The Jafiliya Basketball Court in Satwa , “The prayer is asking guidance to be protected. It’s not a matter of winning the game but how we will play. In our prayer, we try to ask His will, we don’t want to force ourselves to win. It might hurt both parties then.” Benji says.
Two members of the Black team react to a point being scored by the Blue team during the finals match between the Black and Blue teams of the Jafiliyah Baskbetball Championship in Satwa. Razan Alzayani / The National
A Black team member attempts to block a Blue team member from scoring during the Finals game of the Jafiliyah Basketball Championship in at the court in Satwa.
Wives of some of the basketball players in the Blue Team react during a semi-finals match at The Jafiliya Basketball Court in Satwa.
A member of the Jafiliyah Basketball Committee notes down score during a semi-final game between the Black and Yellow team at the Jafiliyah Baskbetball Court in Satwa.
A member of the Jafiliyah Basketball Committee holds up a board with the final score of the Jafiliyah Baskbetball Championship in Satwa. Many family members and friends came to support their friends, husbands and boyfriends on the teams during the championship.
Felix Culpit (R) picks a cigarette off his friend prior to the Finals game of the Jafiliyah Baskbetball Championship in Satwa.
Lyn Veras watches a semi-finals match with her boyfriend Homar Tamares at the Jafiliyah Baskbetball Court in Satwa.
A set of four trophies sit on a table during the finals match of the Jafiliyah Baskbetball Court Championship in Satwa.
The Jafiliya Basketball Court sits off Dhiyafa Street in the Satwa area of Dubai.
I came across the Jafiliya Basketball Court and its community entirely by accident whilst walking around the Satwa area shooting one evening. Two Filipino guys decked out in bright purple and yellow basketball jerseys – not the usual Satwa attire – casually walked out of their apartment building, they caught my eye and I followed them to the court. “You should come on Saturday night,” they said, and so I did, actually I went for the next 5 or 6 Saturdays after that too.
The Jafiliya Basketball Court is the fulcrum of Kababayan social activity in the Satwa area. It is a place where men come to shed the stresses of the daily grind of working in Dubai, shoot some hoops and participate in a team sport, where girlfriends, wives and fiancees cheer on their significant others and where expat children absorb musings on Tagalog slang and culture they otherwise wouldn’t learn in their everyday UAE school environment. Tournaments are organized every few months, with designated coaches and players, printed out jerseys, referees and volunteers manning the logistics of the games. Games take place usually after work hours, so everyone in the community has a chance to come down, hang out and watch. They call this “Tambayan” in Tagalog meaning a place to hang out and not necessarily do anything.
The people that visited the courts almost every night came to know me quite well, they welcomed me with open arms, shared their stories with me and were happy that someone was not only photographing the winning team but also the strongly-built community they were so fondly proud of.