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Toy, the mopper dreams of going global
BENGUELA (Angola) - Antonio Van-Dunem, otherwise known as Toy Limpa Chão (Toy, the mopper) has won the hearts of basketball fans across the globe, although he is yet to leave his native Angola.
Some call him a national treasure, but he prefers to call himself "the 11th player on the basketball court."
"I do this job with pride, and my children are my biggest fans," he tells FIBA.basketball.
Loved by players, referees, fans, and social media purveyors, Toy, the mopper isn't one to waste an opportunity to exhibit his acrobatic and enthusiastically unique floor-sweeping technique.
When a player falls to the ground and the basketball is thrown out of bounds, Toy, the mopper is usually the first one to react with a mop in his hands.
Toy with Guy Edi (Cote d'IVoire) during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers
You'll see Toy running across the court. You'll see him interacting with players. But what he really loves is to keep the game moving. "I do my best to avoid interruptions in the game because of a wet floor. The show must go on," he says.
But, how did Toy, the mopper come up with his unique moves?
"I started as a mopper at ASA [Luanda-based club] in 1998. Before I worked for Primeiro d'Agosto during the 2002 FIBA Africa Champions Cup.
"Sometimes, I noticed that fans inside the arena looked bored. So, I thought the best way to keep them involved in the game was to interact with them. I created some dancing moves and other ways of communication.
"Players are usually focused on the game, but they respect my job. There's mutual respect," he said.
"I NOTICED THAT FANS INSIDE THE ARENA LOOKED BORED. SO, I THOUGHT THE BEST WAY TO KEEP THEM INVOLVED WAS TO INTERACT WITH THEM."
The 40-year-old's exhibits have gone viral, but what he really hopes is to showcase his skills outside of Angola. "I had an offer to work in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019. I was really excited about it, but nothing has materialised. I would love to have the chance of working in a major event," he said.
For this father-of-seven, it all started when a company he worked for was unable to offer him better pay. "Since then I decided to quit and started working as a self-employed. As well as exhibiting my skills across basketball courts, I showcase my work in other events like roller hockey, handball and volleyball."