Canadian Tire teams up with Hoist the Hoops
- NC Raine | March 07, 2022
There’s Rucker Park in New York, the Venice Beach courts in Los Angeles and in August the City of Bridges will have its very own iconic basketball location where sports and culture intersect.
The dream to bring a premier outdoor basketball court to River Landing in Saskatoon, is a passion project that will soon be a reality.
The Hoist the Hoops team, led by Michael Linklater, Marcus Storey, and Michael Donauer, have reached an agreement with Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart charity to construct the outdoor facility.
“I think there will be a big social impact of bringing people of all different walks of life together,’’ said Linklater from Thunderchild First Nation. “With team sports, you already have to learn to work together, but this will give the city a new meeting ground that will bring the entire community together.”
The plan includes a full-size International Basketball Federation (FIBA) court, two regulation 3-on-3 courts, lights, and a shade shelter.
“I believe it’s important to have a premier basketball court in the inner city, so that the kids who reside in the community have access to an amazing facility,” said Linklater.
He believes it will provide an opportunity for those children to not only dream big, but give them the confidence to pursue whatever they want to in life.
The project is rooted in the Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action 90, ‘To ensure national sports policies, programs, and initiatives are inclusive of Aboriginal peoples.’ Throughout the process, Linklater and his team have consulted with Elders, Residential School survivors and community members. They will continue to do so as they develop the facility name and other key elements.
Marco Di Buono, associate vice-President of programs and operations for Jumpstart said Linklater’s vision for the project went above and beyond.
“When he introduced the notion that this could be a very important step for Reconciliation in this community, that, to us, immediately added a whole other perspective that was incredibly important,” he said. “So for that and so many other reasons, this is a project that just resonates so strongly for us.”
Di Buono said they are committed to making it a premier basketball site, with a surfacing technology that replicates the give and feeling of a traditional indoor basketball court, a colour scheme that considers participants with low vision, accessibility for those in wheelchairs and mobility devices, and, for those non-basketball enthusiasts, the court can safely be flooded in the winter.
The timeline for the construction of the court is weather dependent, said Di Buono, but construction plans are currently set for the start late spring or early summer with an anticipated completion date by late summer or early fall.
The project is somewhat of a dream come true for Linklater, who knows first-hand the impact a ball and a hoop can have on a young person’s life.
“I always relate it back to my story,” he said. “It was a new basketball court that was built outside my school that inspired me to play. I’ve been so fortunate over my career to be able to travel the world because of basketball, and more so, because of that court that was built. So we want to give these kids the opportunity to have a safe place to gather and play.”