Fe­male basketball tour­ney about grow­ing the game

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

The sounds of bas­ket­balls thud­ding and squeak­ing sneak­ers re­ver­ber­at­ing through the gym­na­sium floor at All Hal­lows El­e­men­tary in North River usu­ally means a cou­ple of thing.

On the week­end of April 16, it’ll mean that five Grade 5 fe­male teams from around the re­gion are thick in the throws of fun com­pe­ti­tion and learn­ing the ins-and-outs of the game of basketball.

It’s a rare thing for the area, a Grade 5 fe­male basketball tour­ney. It’s more com­mon to see such events geared to­wards play­ers in older grades.

Along with All Hal­lows, the tour­na­ment will fea­ture Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion from Col­liers, St. Anne’s Academy of Dunville, Holy Redeemer in Spa­niard’s Bay and Holy Cross El­e­men­tary from Holy­rood.

It is not a tour­na­ment in the tra­di­tional sense. There are no medals for first or sec­ond place and no ban­ner to hang in the your home gym.

Each team plays every­one else once be­fore head­ing home with a day of basketball un­der their belts.

While or­ga­nizer Dave Pen­ney — who also coaches the All Hal­lows team — wants to see some good com­pe­ti­tion be­ing played on this day, there are more im­por­tant things some­times.

“I’d like to stim­u­late an in­ter­est around basketball in the area,” he said. “It’s to en­cour­age phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.”

Pen­ney has been run­ning this pro­gram since Novem­ber and has played a cou­ple of games over the past num­ber of weeks. How­ever, to see the devel­op­ment of your skills as a player you need game ex­pe­ri­ence.

That’s where the idea of the tour­na­ment came from, ac­cord­ing to Pen­ney.

Tour­na­ments like the one planned for North River are also an im­por­tant teach­ing op­por­tu­nity for the game as well. Play­ers who may not be that fa­mil­iar with the rules can be taught to un­der­stand them bet­ter in the con­fines of an ac­tual game.

“You can only prac­tice so many times,” said Pen­ney. “It’s a coach­ing op­por­tu­nity too. I’d like to in­tro­duce more girls to the game of basketball.”

The num­ber of young fe­male ath­letes who are play­ing basketball in the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla- cen­tia re­gion may sur­prise some peo­ple. Along with the pro­grams at All Hal­lows, St. Anne’s and Holy Redeemer, Pen­ney ex­tended of­fers to St. Peter’s in Up­per Is­land Cove, who would’ve brought two teams and another lo­cal school.

While ini­tially in the tour­na­ment, the teams had to drop out for var­i­ous rea­sons.

“There was the po­ten­tial for eight teams,” said Pen­ney.

The po­ten­tial for this to be­come an an­nual event is there, es­pe­cially with the num­ber of teams out for its first go-around. Tour­na­ments like these can be an im­por­tant step in the de­vel­op­men­tal chain of any sport.

Grow­ing a game has to start some­where and the younger the play­ers are in­tro­duced to it, the bet­ter.

“I’d like to see it con­tinue and hop­ing that it grows,” said Pen­ney. “We need sports.”

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