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March 15, 2010

University Coach Remembered in March Basketball Game

BasketballBasel Ma’ayah’s photo greeted visitors to the Bethlehem University campus on Thursday, 4 March 2010, gracing banners around campus and T-shirts worn by students.

“You have left us physically, but you stay among us spiritually,” the banners said of the former University basketball coach. “We loved you, and we won’t forget you.”

Ma’ayah’s death of cancer on 11 January 2010 shocked the University community. In celebration of his life, including his 20 years as a coach at Bethlehem University, two of the teams he coached played a friendly exhibition game in his honor.

Sponsored by the Student Senate and the Athletics department, the game featured a University team versus one from the local Catholic Action Center gym. Besides the University and Catholic Action teams, Ma’ayah also coached at the Terra Sancta School in Bethlehem.

A highlight of his coaching career was the University women’s team’s fourth place finish against teams from other Arab nations at in May 2009 tournament in Amman, Jordan. Besides achievements on the court, these trips also allowed Ma’ayah to bond with his players. “What was so special about him was that he treated everyone like they were special,” remembered one of his players. “He was always encouraging.”

“He spent his entire time coaching,” said Rita Asfour ’11, a player on the Bethlehem University women’s basketball team. “He was a very popular guy.” So much so, she says, that his former players and fans have organized several facebook groups to remember him.

No score was announced in the 4 March game between the white jersey Catholic Action players and the gray jersey University team. With both jerseys featuring Ma’ayah, winning was not the point, explained University player Ward Qumsieh ‘12. “We played friendly in honor of Basel,” he said. “He was like a friend and a father. We miss him a lot. He is a great loss, but we keep playing.”


Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine