Dozens of Winnipeggers of African descent hit the court Sunday to not only represent their country, but lend a helping hand back home.
The Manitoba Basketball African Cup featured teams representing Kenya, South Sudan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and Zambia, with funds raised from the event helping Tepad Kenya, a non-profit organization in rural Kenya.
The outdoor basketball court in the area of Kapsengere is in dire need of repair, the same court where Abraham Kimutai grew up playing.
“We saw that there’s a need to take part in that community,” Kimutai, who was playing on Team Kenya Sunday, said.
“It feels so good, this is going to be a way of me linking to the community where I grew up.”
The event was put on by the Manitoba Basketball African Association, which originated several years ago and puts on fundraising events like these every year. Last year, the organization raised money for residents in South Sudan, who were dealing with a famine.
And Dennis Maritim, one of the founders of the group, says there’s no better way to fundraise than with a game of hoops.
“One thing that brings everyone together is game of basketball, that’s what really excites a lot of people,” Maritim said. “You get to kill two birds with one stone, you raise money and play basketball.”
And while the games can get intense, players remember the main reason they are competing.
“I find that when there’s a cause, it takes away the motion and craziness when you’re losing games, and things are not going your way,” Maritim said. “You remember the cause and it keeps things in check.”
The court in Kenya is expected to cost around $5,000 to repair.
Kimutai hopes he can head back home not only with some cash to help upgrades, but with a title as well.
“Hopefully I win, so when I go back to the community, I (can say) I’m the holder, the champion.”
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