It’s that time of year again, and I’m getting pretty pumped.
The 53rd annual All Native Basketball Tournament takes to the courts beginning this Sunday with 52 teams ready to battle it out for their respective communities and nations in hopes of bringing home the championship banner and trophy. Honestly I don’t follow professional basketball and could really care less about it, but I always enjoy the All Native Tournament and each year brings with it new questions and endless possibilities on the court.
Hydaburg is looking to continue their new dynasty, but falling behind in the final last year and losing to Bella Bella in 2008 shows they can be beat. Will it happen this year? Bella Bella is carving out a nice legacy in the Masters division, with three wins in four years and two straight. Will they be able to keep the streak alive?
After years of “close but no cigar” the Haisla intermediates and women took home the banner in two of the most unpredictable divisions in the tournament. There’s always so many contenders in both, it’s really tough to call.
But just as much as the action on the court, it’s the atmosphere off the court that keeps me coming back to the All Native Tournament year after year. There’s is such a sense of camaraderie among the fans, the players and everyone involved. Hearing the songs at the opening ceremonies and the chants and cheers as the tournament progresses really gives you a sense of the pride people take in their community, their nation and their culture.
Speaking of culture, you can’t forget all of the food (I always fill up on fried bread) and arts and crafts displayed in the Dick St. Louis auditorium add another level to the tournament.
Trust me, you will never see the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre as packed as it is during the week of the All Native Tournament, and you won’t find an atmosphere like the opening ceremonies or the finals.
Do yourself a favour, go and check it out. And if you can get yourself into the finals or the opening ceremony definitely do.