Conflict between Rain teams leads to exclusion

A split between last year’s Prince Rupert Rain women’s team has created a qualification dilemma for the two new teams and the ANBT.

A split between last year’s Prince Rupert Rain women’s team has created a qualification dilemma for the two new teams and the All Native Basketball Tournament (ANBT) rules committee.

With an invitation only going to one team, the ‘Prince Rupert Rain’, and not the other squad who had called themselves the Prince Rupert Ravens until recently when they changed their name to the ‘Prince Rupert Rain’, the decision has the uninvited team up in arms.

“With the Rain coming in sixth last year and the team dissolving before that, people were already fighting and bickering and we just weren’t getting along so it was already starting to fall apart,” said Bobbi Morgan, a member of the team trying to appeal the rules committee’s decision to let her squad play.

At issue is the single invitation handed to the first Prince Rupert Rain team, which consists of some members of last year’s team but not the ones who make up the other ‘Rain’ team.

The uninvited ‘Rain’ team would like an opportunity to play a playoff challenge against their former teammates to decide who gets to represent the urban centre of Prince Rupert, but as current ANBT rules state, and as rules committee chair Willis Parnell wrote in a letter to all invested parties on Facebook, “there is NO Playoff Challenge for Urban Center teams, the rule states that only one team from an Urban Center can represent in the ANBT”.

While First Nations villages can issue playoff challenges in order to qualify for the ANBT, as the rules stand now, urban centre teams are protected by participating in the previous year’s tournament and placing within a certain rank to earn an invitation back.

“I don’t understand why there’s a difference between a village and an urban centre because there’s way more players here than there would be in a village … we could easily have three or four different teams here of players from Rupert,” said Morgan.

The transportation and time availability issues of returning back to their home villages to train and practice with their Nation’s team prevents many athletes from playing for their home village, so often playing for the urban centre is the only realistic option for them.

As a result, and as part of the letter Parnell issued, the head coach of the invited ‘Rain’ team was told by the rules committee that his squad does not have to play the uninvited team.

“Right now, there’s no rules for challenging and we’ll probably look at that in the future, but of course community teams are community – they deal with their own community business and there’s only one team that can represent or have an invitation. For urban centres the same thing goes – there’s only one and currently the Rain still hold that spot because of their position last year,” said Parnell last week.

“Whether it be a manager or whether it be a coach [that we’re dealing with], we know that the invitation is going to the Rain team and that’s how we know [our invitation’s been sent] and whatever composition that is I’m not sure. So again, with regards to the Prince Rupert Ravens team or whoever may be on that team, it’s been a few months that [these issues] have been going on and I had to do that letter on the ANBT [Facebook page] just to clarify it all because people want us to get involved but as a tournament, we just want to run the tournament and not get involved with the composition of a team because again, we’re going by what the rules state,” Parnell continued, adding that the urban centre playoff challenge rule will likely be up for discussion in reviewing the All Native 2016 tournament during 2015’s edition.

“We just want to play off,” said Morgan, who was allegedly one of the contact information personnel that ANBT contacted for the 2014 tournament and the head coach of the previous intact Rain team.

“Right now they’re dictating who gets that [Kaien Island] spot and they’re not giving clear answers … Willis has said ‘we’ll step back and let you resolve this on your own’ and then he goes and turns around and tells the [other team] they don’t have to play us. He’s contradicting his own statement,” said Morgan.

“I think we’re probably going to discuss [the urban centre playoff challenge ruling] come February and what we’ll usually try to do if we formulate something is we’ll put it out [as a memo] after the tournament so we can inform people so they’re aware [while everyone is still at the tournament],” said Parnell.

A representative from the qualifying team could not be reached by press time.