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Chaldean Basketball Grows With Talent and Time
By Ray Yono :: Thursday, February 19, 2009 :: 46871 Views :: Sports, Art, and Entertainment

Illinois, USA – Chaldeans and basketball may become as natural as American and apple pie.  The sport is taking hold of the community as some of the most dedicated fans show their support.  However,   becoming fans and sitting on the sidelines is rarely enough for the ambitious community. 

Adel Meram a former basketball coach in Baghdad Iraq taught fundamental basketball in the early 60’s to Iraqi students.  Meram says it seems basketball is returning to its historic roots when dealing with the Chaldean community.  Today the Chaldean Basketball League and the Chaldean Church Sports League boast one of the largest and most competitive and action packed youth leagues in the community. 

Meram says the natural competitive drive of Chaldeans soon pushed them on the court to take on their school peers and friends in parking lots and playgrounds.  Meram goes on to share that basketball was invented in 1891. The inventor of the game was a Canadian clergyman, James Naismith.  Fr. Naismith invented basketball as an alternative to the calisthenics and marching of his faith filled students to keep fit in the winters.  

The game of basketball was mixture of other games, seeking to eliminate flaws of indoor rugby, soccer and lacrosse. Fr. Naismith also borrowed aspects from the children’s game “Duck-on-a-Rock,” in which children tried to knock off a rock from a boulder by tossing smaller rocks from about 20 feet away.  In America the first game was played at the International Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Training School, now called Springfield College.

Today more and more Chaldeans are demonstrating that hard work, focus, and composure on the basketball court can trump natural talent.  “You wouldn’t find too many basketball courts in the Iraqi desert,” says Adel Meram, a former basketball coach in Baghdad.  “Chaldeans do great because of their work ethic and attitude.”

Along with community leagues Chaldean athletes are making impressive gains on the court.  Chaldean coaches are leading teams to impressive victories and players from across the state stand-out as all-star players. 

In the East Suburban Catholic Conference of Illinois St. Viator Lion Alan Aboona is one of the leading junior point guards in the conference.

Although St. Viator has not been playing as consistently as many expected, team leader Alan Aboona keeps his team in contention.  Recently, Aboona hit two 3-pointers and scored a game-high 30 points, including a 12-of-13 effort from the free-throw line. The agile junior helped keep the team in respective standing. 

Chaldean Basketball all-stars are not limited to only the male persuasion.  Being just as competitive and savvy on the court female basketball players are making incredible strides in the sport. 

In the Central Suburban North championship of Illinois Main West, led by senior Shaina Yalda capture their third crown.  Their championship win marks the 23rd time in 28 years under Hall of Fame coach Derril Kipp that Maine West has been solo conference champs.


Meram says that basketball was a simple game, which consists of a ball and a basket. “The very first ball that was used was a soccer ball until 1894 when an actual ‘basketball’ was invented,” says Meram. 

Today Chaldeans play on major basketball high school and college teams.  “There are Chaldeans playing for Michigan State University and University of Detroit Mercy to name just a few,” says Meram.  “If anyone watches a CCSL basketball game they can see the passion, fun, and success our Chaldean youth have with this sport.”

St. Joseph, MI USA

St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church
2442 E. Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, MI 48083
Tel: (248) 528-3676
Fax: (248) 524-1957

Congregation Organizer:
Rev. Michael J. Bazzi

Church Constructing Pastor:
Rev. Sarhad Y. Jammo

Current Pastor:
Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Ayad Hanna

 Current Pastor: Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Msgr. Zouhair Toma (Kejbou) was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1947.  He was ordained a priest in Baghdad, Iraq in 1968, and accepted his first assignment to serve the community of Baquba.  The Monsignor’s leadership skills and organizational talents along with his mastery of theology were immediately evident.  He later assisted Sts. Peter and Paul in Al-Salehia, and St. George in New Baghdad.

In August, 1978 Monsignor Toma was called to serve the growing community of persecuted Chaldeans finding refuge in Australia.   Being the fist Chaldean priest to arrive in Australia he quickly established a parish for the Chaldeans in Sydney to serve their social and spiritual needs.  The parish was named after St. Thomas the Apostle and built a rectory. 

In 1989, for his incredible work he was granted the title of Monsignor, Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar for Australia and New Zealand.  Continuing his passionate work to serve the Chaldean community the Monsignor moved the Parish Center to a more accessible location and built a large church campus featuring a modern community center, residence quarters, and administrative offices in 1995. 

In 2003, Monsignor Toma added a magnificent church to replace the previous one in order to serve the fast growing community and also opened two other centers.  The first was Our Lady Guardian of Plants in Melbourne, and the second was Mar Addai the Apostle in Auckland, New Zealand.  Mar Addai in New Zealand included two very large churches along with rectories and community centers.  Overseeing the Patriarchal Vicariate for 28 years, he managed to inspire six more priests to help minister to the fast growing Chaldean community. 

In August 2006, Monsignor chose to assist the St. Thomas the Apostle Diocese in the U.S. as more Catholic churches were being built in America and address the growing need.  On October 2006, Monsignor was incardinated and appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Troy.