Shoeless Indian boys who were nicknamed by their opponents “the barefoot mice from Mexico” because the team of Trique Indian boys dominated with “strength, speed and resistance,” became this year’s champions at the International Festival of Mini-Basketball held recently in Argentina, according to an Oct. 16, 2013, The Washington Post report.
The shoeless team of Trique Indian boys are from Oaxaca in southern Mexico and while the boys receive tennis shoes when they join the basketball team, they prefer not to wear them – they are accustomed to going barefoot.
The Trique are indigenous people in the western part of the Mexican state of Oaxaca and they number around 23,000. Many of the Trique people speak their own language, a Mixtecan language, and live in the mountainous region of “La Mixteca Baja" at a high elevation of 5,000 to almost 10,000. The high elevation allows low-lying cumulus clouds to envelop entire towns during the afternoons and evenings. Besides being known for their artistic baskets, Trique Indians are known for their “resistance.” In 2006, Trique Indians from the town of San Juan Copala declared themselves autonomous of the Mexican state, according to a La Jornada report.
According to Ernesto Merino, who is one of the team’s coaches and also a Trique Indian, the boys grow up in large families and being poor, there is not always enough money to buy clothes and shoes.
On Wednesday, after winning all six basketball games at the International Festival of Mini-Basketball in Argentina and becoming this year’s champions, the shoeless Trique Indian boys returned home to Mexico where they received a minute of applause on the floor of Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies, as well as accolades from Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and basketball experts.
Horacio Muratore, who is the president of the International Basketball Federation-Americas, commented that the shoeless Trique Indian boys were the best players in the annual tournament.
“These boys deserved (the championship) more than anyone.”