A few Maples-area volunteers are making a huge difference for local kids who want to play basketball.
Over 800 kids play in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). The league is not a community centre or school-based program — it exists pure through the efforts of a team of super volunteers.
The PBA was initially a Filipino youth league. Now it’s open to all kids and nationalities. There is a growing girls’ league, and for the first time, this season, there is a kids under-eight program.
"The volunteers are the key in this league. They love basketball, and they want to celebrate this great sport and assist our kids to be active in the winter months," PBA president Manny Aranez says.
This season, there are 44 teams participating in the not-for-profit league. Games began in late November and end in April. All games are played on Sundays in two large gymnasiums rented at Garden City Collegiate.
In addition to league games, coaches keep their teams busy with weekly practise sessions.
The winners of their respective divisions are eligible to represent the PBA at the annual North American Cities Tournament.
Red and Sandra Ducharme are a husband-and-wife coaching duo who bring a very successful Winnipeg coaching legacy to the PBA. Since 1999, they have led several basketball teams to a number of championships and their son and two daughters have represented Manitoba at the provincial and Indigenous championships. This season Red and Sandra are the coaching the eight-year-old Winnipeg Spirit, which includes their grandson, Dante Ducharme.
"We are so happy to assist the kids. Team sports keep them fit, they do better in school and the kids make lots of friends," Sandra says.
For program info contact Manny Aranez, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Active Living Seven Oaks is a free exercise program for seniors at the Garden City Mall alcove. It starts Jan. 8 and runs every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7:30 to 8:30 am.
For more info call Cory Juan, 204-694-8517.
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Free skating sessions are available starting Jan. 7 at the Maples-area Elwick Community rink located at 30 Maberley St.
Lessons will run Mondays and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. Free skates are available.
For more info call Amanda Lennon, 204-793-2124.
Derek Dabee is a community correspondent for The Maples. You can contact him at email@example.com.