Young basketball players from Riverbend and West Kildonan will be able to play out of their home community centre starting this spring.
Red River Community Centre will be entering teams in the Winnipeg Minor Basketball Association for the first time, meaning children from the area will no longer need to register at other centres, such as Garden City, Tyndall Park and East St. Paul.
"I’m guessing we’re looking at about 80 to 100 kids who could potentially sign up," said RRCC basketball convenor Mike Picur, a Riverbend resident whose seven-year-old daughter, Isabelle, plays on a Garden City team with four other kids from her neighbourhood.
The first batch of Red River Panthers basketball teams will be part of the WMBA’s spring league, a 10-game season that runs from April until June. The centre will also be entering teams in the fall/winter league, which this year has 222 teams from across the city.
"It’s a big thing for us to add community centres," said WMBA executive director Darcy Coss. "We don’t do that very often. It’s exciting because it’s a growing area with lots of new homes going up. We’re excited that Red River is taking that initiative to institute basketball there."
Parents can register their kids for all spring sports at the club on Feb. 25 and March 5 from 6 to 8 p.m., and on March 10 from noon until 2 p.m.
One of the most appealing things to parents about youth basketball is its affordability, said Coss and Picur. The spring season will set parents back $100 plus a registration fee.
"Instead of paying for a bunch of (hockey) equipment, it’s just shoes and shorts, and that’s it," Picur said, adding that unlike hockey there are no added expenses for renting ice as the season goes on.
Coss said spring basketball is becoming a popular choice over soccer, baseball and softball because bad weather has no impact.
"We know it’s consistent," he said. "We’re inside, so we’re not raining games out. We play on weekends and you know there’s always going to be a game."
The younger RRCC teams will be able to use the centre’s own gym — which isn’t big enough for a regulation court — for practices, while the older teams will work with Seven Oaks School Division to find available hardwood.
Picur said the centre is still looking for volunteers to help coach and manage teams.
More information on youth basketball in the area can be found at www.redrivercc.com.