Having a little fun on the basketball court is proving to be a way to cross generations and bring joy to many.
On Apr. 30, Sunday Hoops, the Filipino Canadian Association of Cochrane Alberta (FCACA), Calgary Blizzards Basketball and many other generous sponsors filled the morning with basketball events for the young and young at heart.
It kicked off with a pair of charity all-star games, followed by a free youth basketball clinic, led by coaches of Calgary Blizzards Basketball with the assistance of the Dadiguz Basketball and Beyond Foundation (DBBF) and The Expert Collective (TEC).
The 35+ all-star game saw Team Alex Tumang overcome Team Mike Bautista. The Selects game between the younger stars of Sunday Hoops' Alex Tumang Cup league was won by the team coached by Edsel Madrid.
Cocoy Reyes was named the MVP in the 35+ game and Arjay Manabat was recognized for the Sunday Hoops Selects matchup.
For seven years, realtor Alex Tumang has been a major sponsor of Sunday Hoops. On Sunday, he even played in the veterans' game. It's a sport he loves but admits he hasn't played in some time.
He's proud to have been a long-time sponsor of Sunday Hoops and enjoys giving back to the Filipino basketball community.
"Most Filipinos love basketball, and I think basketball is a way to bring the community together, from the youngest to the oldest. It makes the community stronger. They connect more and it brings a lot of joy."
Anne Reyes, of Charlesglen Toyota, counts basketball among the many sponsorships she provides to special events of the Filipino community in southern Alberta. She enjoys supporting Sunday Hoops.
Nearly 80 area youth participated in a free basketball clinic that followed the games, over double the number who attended last year.
The Filipino-Canadian Association of Cochrane Alberta (FCACA) in partnership with the Dadiguz Basketball and Beyond Foundation, TEC, as well as many other generous supporters, teamed up to make it possible for a third year.
Andy De Guzman, program director of Calgary Blizzards Basketball, who played 12 years professionally in the Philippines Basketball Association and coached another 10 years at the university level, once again be lead the training with his team of coaches.
Several youth from the Dadiguz Basketball and Beyond Foundation also assisted with the drills.
Danilo Cruz, the Blizzards operational manager, says the foundation was created to give equal opportunities to all youth in Alberta.
"We reach out to the community and share the knowledge of what our coaches know, especially our program director Coach Andy. We've seen that some kids don't have the opportunity to play and experience what other kids do, so we wanted to reach out and give them that opportunity."
TEC's Lisa D Leon, and her team from their latest project "For the Love of Youth," better known as FLY, were on hand to create awareness of their offerings. TEC is a not-for-profit organization, and this particular project is funded by the federal government under the Support for Student Learning Program.
Helping youth attend basketball clinics like this and finding a balance between being an athlete and a student is just one of the many ways they reach out to assist underrepresented and newcomer students.
That includes visible minority and racialized students, newcomer students, students with disabilities, Indigenous students, students from low-income households, students identifying as 2SLGBTQ+, and students who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
FLY also provides after-school tutoring, counselling, and financial support to encourage disadvantaged youth to stay in school, graduate on time, and pursue post-secondary studies.
Sunday Hoops organizer Mike Bautista says he was pleased with how the league and this special event have grown over the years. He thanks all the sponsors and volunteers who make it all possible.
About $150 was raised from the all-star games that will support community projects of the FCACA.
Sunday Hoops wraps up their league championship game for the Alex Tumang Cup this Sunday.