XIAMEN – All those who tuned into the four exciting days of action at the recently concluded University World Cup in China, would have heard the inimitable voice of commentator Ben Ibrahim. Ibrahim’s love for sport is evident in his unique style. From excitement to shock, humour to critiques, Ibrahim brings the spirit of the game into his commentary such that every emotion on court can be sensed by viewers.
Also taking FISU’s sport-and-education spirit to heart, Ibrahim held a Basketball 101 commentary workshop on the side lines of the event. About a dozen youngsters, players and volunteers, attended the intense two-hour class.
“When there are two commentators, you have to know what role you are playing, lead or colour,” Ben Ibrahim explained to his attentive audience. “And don’t crash into each other’s sentences.”
He also reminded them to stay energetic and excited, as he does, and to try and tell the audience what they can’t see such as potential plays that the teams will run. It goes without saying that Ben delivered the workshop in a fun yet practical manner.
Another key learning for the participants was how to add value specifically for a basketball TV audience, especially when presenting live games.
“The 3×3 game is very fast compared to 5on5,” he said. “The game lasts only 10 minutes, and the first team to reach 21 or 22 points wins. So, as a commentator you have to be aware of the mathematics of the score and the clock, and how that is relevant to the potential plays or offensive sets that each team will or may run.”
Everyone got a chance to actually practice the art of commentary during the workshop, and also received feedback from each other. Ben did stress that a commentator must always view audience feedback through a positive lens.
“A lot of commentary is now done through livestreaming on Facebook or YouTube,” he told the participants. “So, you can receive feedback on the spot through the comments. Earlier, before live streaming, it used to take some time for TV commentators and presenters to receive any form of feedback.”
And what about the best feedback he has ever received?
“The best feedback I received recently is when one person said in the comments that I was very good, engaging, and professional,” Ben revealed. “But what was even more pleasing was that fifteen other people liked that same comment. It made me feel validated, that my journey of wanting to be a competent commentator has been worth it, because I have worked really hard at this trade.”
“Good TV presenters and commentators are not built in a week, month or even year. As clichéd as it sounds, it takes time. You do the work, there is a good chance you will do well. Just like being an athlete or a coach.”
The workshop was well received by all participants, and Ben’s infectious personality endeared him to one and all.