Gaddiel See took hours to find a court to play at one day, then decided no one should do that again.
To Gaddiel See, basketball means more than just a sport or a recreational hobby.
Two years ago, he faced a stressful time while working at a digital marketing agency as a project executive – his first job after graduating university. A childhood friend whom he used to play basketball with asked him if he wanted to join in for a game and by the end of it, he felt reinvigorated.
Every week thereafter, he looked forward to reconnecting with the sport.
“I can always come back and feel a sense of belonging,” explained Gaddiel. That sense of belonging would eventually lead him to create Own Your Court – a platform that seeks to list and review all of Singapore’s public basketball courts.
“Basketball brought me through tough times and my education,” Gaddiel said. He meant it quite literally.
As a kid, Gaddiel played in his primary school band. Every other day, he and his oldest brother played basketball with neighbours in his condominium. The friendships he made would last into adulthood.
At the end of Primary Six, Gaddiel and his neighbours registered to join a junior league in BBAXN. At the same time, Gaddiel sat for his PSLEs. His dream school to study in was Unity Secondary – known for their basketball programme – but his score was one point off.
Serendipitously, during the finals of BBAXN’s junior basketball league, one of the referees approached his mother, asking if Gaddiel might be interested to join the school he coached. The next week, Gaddiel was studying in Unity Secondary School and a part of his school’s basketball team.
Four years later, Gaddiel used basketball again to get into business school. His L1R5 was off by a few points. In his JPSAE interview with his prospective school board, he expressed passion to be part of the school’s basketball team and how he would use his experience to guide more junior players. Months later, he was studying in his polytechnic of choice.
Despite success in his education, Gaddiel felt he didn’t fit with his school’s basketball team. The way they played wasn’t aligned with how he looked at the game. With other commitments piling up, he slowly lost touch with the sport.
Luka Dončić is Gaddiel’s current favourite player. “He’s not fast, can’t really jump, is a bit slow. But he’s super smart, very agile, and skillful. Definitely a star of the future,” Gaddiel shared.
Their parallels in thoughtfulness and resourcefulness in playing basketball are apparent. “I’m a measly 1.67m tall basketball player. For me, playing has David and Goliath vibes. It’s not just about physical build or stature. To outplay is to outthink.”
“Basketball is maybe among the top three most played sports in Singapore. It’s free to play. There are courts everywhere,” Gaddiel said. There is a ready supply of courts to satisfy high demand, but convenience and quality are often compromised.
Once, during monsoon season, Gaddiel and his friends tried to find a sheltered basketball court near them to play. They moved from courts that were full, closed or unsuitable for their game. “Outdoor courts are exposed to Singapore’s weather, which can create cracks on the court floors. Sheltered courts are overused and under-maintained.”
Gaddiel was unsatisfied. Why wasn’t there a platform listing all basketball courts in Singapore?
“I don’t even know where on the HDB website to find their courts. I don’t think they have a list,” he said.
Instead of resorting to indefinite trial and error, he decided to start Own Your Court, a digital platform that curates the best basketball courts in Singapore to play at, and other information that might help basketball players access them. These include HD images of the courts, whether they are indoor or outdoor, when they are available to play at, whether booking is required, how much booking costs.
2020’s circuit breaker allowed Gaddiel to convert time travelling to and fro his office to build Own Your Court. He had years of experience playing basketball to professionally review courts. His education and work experience meant he could build a website and connect with Own Your Court’s potential audience. “I understand the struggle. I’m not shy. I go down to basketball courts to introduce myself and my platform.”
Does the perfect court exist? “It doesn’t matter if it’s a nylon or cotton net; a net must be there. Scoring doesn’t feel as good without a net,” Gaddiel said. “The rim must be of a standard height: 3m. Preferably, it’s single-rimmed. Double-rims make scoring slightly more difficult. The backboard must be of a standard shape and size. Courts in Singapore may have backboards that are slightly smaller, bigger or cracked. The lines on the floor of the court should be clearly painted. It doesn’t really matter for a casual game, but if it’s more official you’d want it to be painted in dimensions of the highest standard. In our case, FIBA, the International Basketball Federation.
Currently, all opinions on Own Your Court are Gaddiel’s. Users can submit the locations of their courts for him to review. Eventually, they will be able to submit their own pictures and experiences. Think Yelp or Tripadvisor for basketball courts in Singapore. “Seeing consensus on the problems I’ve noticed, and trying to give back to a community I feel passionate about and strongly connected to gives me a sense of accomplishment.”
“Now, I don’t think of it as a business,” Gaddiel said. “This is something I’ll always work on, even if it doesn’t generate income. It’s a part of my life. Something I’m passionate about. It’s a good initiative. I wish someone else did it, so I wouldn’t have to.”
But maybe following your passion is the answer to success. In the future, Own Your Court may not just feature basketball courts. People want to play sports and need spaces to facilitate game time. On which sport the platform may venture into next, Gaddiel said: “If I had to choose, it’d be bowling. It’s a sport I picked up in the last few years. I play every weekend with my parents. We play five to seven games. We have our own balls.”
He substantiated: Own Your Court could be a platform to seek trainers, coaches and referees, buy sports equipment, even organise basketball games for corporate companies.
Basketball may not be the sport Singapore is most known for, but Gaddiel is hopeful. “It’s bigger than it was, but there’s still a lot of room to grow. There are a lot more freelance coaches and people taking on basketball as a career.”
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