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Young Musqueam basketball team reigniting dormant passions

The Musqueam Nation Warriors bring basketball back into the community

The Musqueam Nation Warriors playing the Heiltsuk Nation on Monday, March 19 at Sutherland Secondary School in North Vancouver. Photo by Lisa Steacy
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Reported by Lisa Steacy

Basketball is back in Musqueam.

Youth interest in the sport, which thrived throughout the 1990s, had all but died, until last year, when coach John Sparrow and a small group of boys got a team together just two months before the Junior All Native basketball tournament and took home the third-place trophy.

Reignited passion

The young team’s success reignited a dormant passion, according to Musqueam Band council member Tammy Harkey.

“They have re-inspired that love of the game within the community,” Harkey said. “The uptake from the boys has been incredible and their commitment is stellar.”

Juniors make a comeback

Although the Musqueam Nation has had a men’s team since 2013, they hadn’t entered the junior tournament in decades. These days, however, the squeak of sneakers and the thrum of dribbling echo in the local gym five days a week, as the Musqueam Nation Warriors have sent not one, but two junior teams this year.

Despite some early losses and a move to to B draw for the under-17 team, both teams are still in the tournament which runs until March 23.

But competition is only one aspect of the tournament. The whole community is behind the boys. Elders who played during the 90s, now come out in support, sporting team sweaters.

Kole Stogen, Captain of the under-13s said, “We love to be able to represent our culture doing this. And for us to do it at such a young age, it’s incredible.”

The tournament this year is bigger than ever with 84 teams competing on the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

One big family

Sparrow, whose father used to play for Musqueam and whose sons are now competing, said the teams were like one big family,

“Win or lose we’re going to go out to represent our nation and be proud and be there and let them know that Musqueam is back,” he said.

The Under 17 team won one game and lost two. The Under 13 team won two and lost two. Most of the games were close, but neither team made the finals.

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