Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Boys and Girls Clubs give many their start

Bisons point guard Ali now volunteers, returns to his roots

  • Print
Bisons guard Amir Ali (centre) helps out in the Victor Mager School gym while Boys and Girls Clubs participants Noman Pervez (left) and Salman Ahmed battle for the basketball Thursday.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Bisons guard Amir Ali (centre) helps out in the Victor Mager School gym while Boys and Girls Clubs participants Noman Pervez (left) and Salman Ahmed battle for the basketball Thursday. Photo Store

For so many nights, as a teen, Amir Ali would pack his homework into his backpack and schlep on down to a St. Vital elementary school to shoot hoops.

Ali's parents hail from Ethiopia, where soccer is king and so basketball wasn't the focus at first. It was just a fun thing, a chance to hang with his friends. But during those endless young nights on the court, under the guidance of Boys and Girls Clubs managers, he started to get good.

Flash forward to now, and Ali is a fourth-year University of Manitoba basketball standout, a rock-solid point guard and the team captain. Still, those youthful nights at Victor Mager School haven't faded into the rearview mirror. Indeed, after graduating from St. Paul's High School, Ali became a Boys and Girls Clubs volunteer. He wanted to give kids the same sense of a place to go, and have fun, and escape the pressures of teen life.

"It's bigger than basketball," he said. "You look at kids, and you can't help but get attached. That was me, five years ago."

'It's bigger than basketball. You look at kids, and you can't help but get attached. That was me, five years ago'

-- Amir Ali

So yes, Ali is pumped that the Bisons basketball team is hosting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg Invitational Tournament this weekend, a two-day blast of youth and university hoops that kicks off today at Investors Group Athletic Centre. The tournament features four university teams, including the east's top-ranked Western Mustangs and Windsor Lancers, and 12 youth club teams from across Winnipeg, who will play at St. Paul's High School.

This is the second year for the Boys and Girls Clubs tournament, and the first time the Bisons have hosted a pre-season competition since 2006.

The squad was focused on building other parts of the program, head coach Kirby Schepp said, and when tournament organizers approached the Bisons about taking the Boys and Girls Club tournament to the next level, the university hopped right on board.

"This was the next step in our growth," Schepp said. "We were kind of looking for an opportunity to partner with a group like this, so it was just kind of a natural fit."

Besides playing in exhibition games for the young fans, the Bisons athletes will also offer a basketball clinic and on-court event.

"Our goal is we can introduce them to a university setting," said Schepp, noting that the Bisons have had at least one or two Boys and Girls Club alumni each year.

"They can see that this is an achievable path. And by bringing Amir to that too, they can see that one of them went (to the Bisons)."

As for the kids, they're buzzing about the chance to play in the tournament.

"It feels great," said Hasmir Sesay, 14, who started dropping by the Boys and Girls Club at Victor Mager a few years ago. "We work really hard so we can be a good team. We're doing good, we're starting to work as a team."

Like Ali years before, Sesay now comes almost every night to shoot hoops and hang out with friends.

"The first time, my friend told me to come because all the people are so nice around here. They really do care about the kids that come here. Then I started coming more and more, and it's fun."

The 2013 Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg Invitational Tournament's university games kick off at 6 p.m. tonight at Investors Group Athletic Centre, where the Windsor Lancers will take on the University of Winnipeg Wesmen. At 8 p.m. the Bisons will face off against the Western Mustangs. The tournament continues on Saturday, when the Wesmen will play the Mustangs at 5:30 before the Bisons wrap it up at 8 p.m. against the Lancers.

Tickets each day are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Donations are welcomed for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg.

 

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 11, 2013 C5

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

J.P. Vigier’s Whiteboard: Coach Maurice’s first full season

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Challenges of Life- Goose Goslings jump over railway tracks to catch up to their parents at the Canadian Pacific Railway terminalon Keewatin St in Winnipeg Thursday morning. The young goslings seem to normally hatch in the truck yard a few weeks before others in town- Standup photo- ( Day 4 of Bryksa’s 30 day goose project) - Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A Canada Goose cools off in a water pond Monday afternoon at Brookside Cemetary- See Bryksa’s Goose a day Challenge– Day 27-June 25, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think Ray Rice should be given a lifetime ban from the NFL?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google