New Indigenous basketball league includes culture and life skills
- Suliman Adam | May 27, 2021
When Mike Tanton was growing up, basketball was his sanctuary from stress and he wants today’s urban kids to have access to it too.
“It helps you build confidence, gives you a sense of identity, and contributed to my character development,” said Tanton who is a co-founder of One Love Basketball, a non-profit that celebrates the sport.
“I just want kids to play and experience everything that comes with the rewards of putting that time into the game,” Tanton said.
One Love is collaborating with Aboriginal Friendship Centres of Saskatchewan to create the Living Skies Indigenous Basketball League (LSIBL), which launched its website registration in April 2021 for camps and tournaments for girls’ and boys’ teams in two age groups, Juniors (11-14) and Seniors (15-17).
The initiative is funded by the Federal Government and community stakeholders.
Paige Crozen, league manager, said they want to provide a project that celebrates Indigenous cultures throughout Saskatchewan. There will be cultural activities, tournaments, and games for Indigenous youth, she said.
“We want to focus on the holistic athlete, so we want to take care of their physical health, but also offer resources to take care of their mental, spiritual and cultural well-being,” she said.
To that end, youth will participate in workshops teaching communications, teamwork, and leadership, resume writing, interview skills, resiliency, and mental wellness adapted from an Indigenous way of knowing.
An Indigenous Elder or Knowledge Keeper will deliver cultural education for the youth.
“We integrated workshops to build their skills and a cultural component integrated into all aspects of the league,” Crozen said. “How can they help a friend, we want to provide the tool.”
The league needs coaches and will certify coaches to run the tournament. They’ll receive a coach’s manual that has been created grounded in Indigenous culture.
“We will be calling on volunteers to help coach, and schools to provide access toward their facilities,” Crozen said. “Sport has done a great job in creating unity.”
“We want all athletes to come together and create connections.”
While the program launched in November 2020, spring camps are organized across Saskatchewan and the league recently opened its website for the fall 2021 recruitment.
A practice plan and a training agenda for strength and conditioning have also been devised for the league.
“We are working or talking to a strength and conditioning coach to talk about the fundamentals of weightlifting and physical activity,” Crozen said.
Girls who participate in sports in high school are more likely to be physically active later in life and into their 40s, Crozen said.
“One of our goals is to increase participants' well-being towards physical activity,” she said. “Our goal is for them to be active for life.”
To register and for more information on the Basketball league, visit www.livingskiesbasketball.com.