Two and a half Americans in Leipzig
Boston-born Chris Flores plays basketball for Uni-Riesen Leipzig and enjoys the Saxon way of life with his family.
“Life here in Saxony is so easy-going; it’s much calmer than back home in Boston. People have more time for each other here, they play with their children and enjoy cups of coffee together. I love the Saxon way of life,” says Chris Flores. The 24-year-old professional basketball player has been living in Leipzig for two years and is contracted to play for local team Uni-Riesen Leipzig. When he first came to Saxony from the US, Chris travelled over on his own because his wife, Jennifer, was pregnant at the time. After their son was born, she moved to Leipzig along with four-week-old Julian. The 22-year-old recalls: “It was spring and people were out and about in Leipzig’s parks. Families were having barbecues and playing with their kids. For us, it was so different from life back home, where everyone is always rushing from one thing to another.”
A typical Leipzig trait: looking after players’ families
Uni-Riesen helped the young family settle in when they arrived in Germany. Chris says: “The support we received was fantastic. We were given a cot, a buggy, baby clothes and toys.” Uni-Riesen manager Christoph Stumpf nods: “Yes, that’s the way we do things here. We make sure we look after our international players. The athletes are given a fully furnished apartment. The first few weeks can be quite challenging, especially for young players who’ve never been to Europe before. We assist them with official formalities and do everything we can to help them settle in.”
Basketball is his life
Jennifer and Chris come from the east coast of the US: she is from New Jersey, he hails from Boston. Chris grew up bilingual. He says: “My parents originally come from Honduras and decided to move to the US when they were in their early twenties, so the same age we are now.” He’s been playing basketball since he was a young boy. “Basketball is as important in the US as football here in Germany. There are open spaces everywhere where almost all the kids play basketball.” He began training seriously at the age of ten and quickly developed his skills. The 1.88-metre tall athlete was then successfully selected for a place on a university basketball team. In the US, this is usually the first step on the road towards becoming a professional basketball player. After Chris Flores had finished his business studies degree, his agent arranged for him to play in Leipzig. He has now made his mark in Saxony with his fast, creative play in the position of shooting guard. Shooting guards are point scorers who are able to put the ball in the basket fast and can shoot accurately, even from long distances.
A hands-on basketball professional
Chris knows how important it is for children to have role models. As such, actively encouraging the next generation of Uni-Riesen players is a priority for him. He’s a true hands-on professional. In November 2014, for example, he paid a visit to a sports project week which was being held at a school in Leipzig and talked to the audience about what motivates him. “I draw more strength from defeat than victory,” he told them. Manager Christoph Stumpf says: “When our players take the time to get involved in these initiatives, it’s fantastic for us as a team. Selling basketball to sport-loving youngsters is a key aspect of our work with junior talent, and it’s an area where our players can make a real difference.” No decision has yet been made about where Chris Flores will go next season. Professional sporting contracts always cover a fixed period. If Chris’s contract in Leipzig is extended, Jennifer and Chris would like to send their son, Julian, to kindergarten in Leipzig. “That would be great. Julian could learn German there,” says Jennifer. All three of them remain very content in Saxony with the compelling package of lifestyle, job and surrounding environment.