Jamie living the dream
JAMIE Stewart can't speak German, but he won't let that get in the way of living his dream or representing his country.
In June this year the Daily News spoke to the 29-year-old wheelchair basketballer, who was fundraising in a bid to take up an invitation to play in the European League for top German team the Immovesta Trier Dolphins.
"It's all going really great over here in 'Germania'," Stewart said in a recent email.
"I'm settling in to my new lifestyle very well: eat, gym, eat, nap, eat, train, eat, sleep - repeat.
"It has been massively life-changing experience to throw in the 9-to-5. I've been travelling all over Germany. We will travel to the UK early next year for the Euro Cup 2012. If we place well there, we get to go to Spain or Italy for the finals. Exciting!"
So far the team has won three of its four games and is ranked third in the German First Division.
"The crowd beat drums and make a hell of a noise," Stewart said of the 200-strong home-game spectators.
The crowds, media attention and live television broadcasts are somewhat foreign to the Gold Coast lad, who has been nicknamed Aussie - a tag that he seems particularly fond of.
"The team have hung a big Australian flag in the stadium we play in, so I am representing for the Aussies and it makes me very proud," he said. "It's an awesome experience.
"I am number four jersey and I get announced as 'Aussie' (there is another Jamie on the team)," he said.
The Aussie guard is the first player on the court and is motivated by the thrill of making his entrance.
"I appear through a tunnel with smoke and lights, make my way through a tunnel of kids and high-fives," he said.
"Once the rest of the team comes out we throw sponsors' giveaways like hats and mouse pads into the crowd."
The team has a range of promotional gear featuring Jamie's "Aussie" mug, a unique opportunity he is clearly happy about.
"You can buy absolutely everything, with every different player's face on it.
"T-shirts, pillows, calendars, mouse pads, coffee cups, you name it - they have my face on it."
The basketballer's enthusiasm for the game he loves is equalled only by his appreciation for the experience.
"Coach and player Dirk Passiwan is the best player in Germany," Stewart said.
"Also, there are six players from the Canadian national team, so there are a lot of experienced players on the team to learn from."
Not one to forget his roots, he wrote in the email: "Playing and training with Janet McLachlan has taught me a lot, as she is the best female player in the world."
The only downside is the ever-encroaching European winter, but Stewart says that was a small sacrifice to make.