The ball is in the air at the 61st All Native Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.
Over 2000 fans and players from all over B.C. and Alaska are expected to be involved in supporting the teams on the opening day, Feb.9. It is a sell out event for the 8 p.m. opening ceremonies at the Jim Ciccone Civic Center, with standing room only tickets still available.
“It takes about six months to plan an event like this,” said Peter Haugan, event organizer. “We have a very loyal fan base and and very loyal base of teams who want to enter.”
The annual event will host 54 teams and 52 food plus craft vendors. There are 16 ladies teams, 15 seniors teams, 12 masters teams and 11 intermediate teams. Up to 3000 people are expected through out the week long duration of the tournament. Games started early Sunday morning with food and craft vendors opening the next day on Feb. 10.
It is the first time in 29 years that Dawn Gladstone from Vancouver has attended the tournament. She gave up a trip to Las Vegas, to come and support her brother, Mitchel Martin, player 24 on the Heiltsuk Nation masters team.
“He’s being inducted into the hall of fame on Tuesday, so there’s no way I could miss that,” Gladstone said.
“I love coming up here to the tournament because you get to see old friends and meet new ones,” Lorena White, from Bella Bella, sister of Gladstone and avid fan of the Heiltsuk Nation team, said. “I look forward to the opening ceremonies. My favourite part is the singing and drumming and when the teams march in.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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