Basketball made its debut at the World Indigenous Nations Games 2017 on Wednesday at Maskwacis.
“The games are growing. Hopefully next time at the basketball event there will be more teams entered. It will be awesome,” said Michael Swampy, assistant sports co-ordinator with the games.
He said it was great to see so many different cultures participate even if basketball wasn’t a popular sport in their country.
“They’re having fun. They’re enjoying themselves.”
And being part of the games is a new experience for Maskwacis, he said.
Ryley McMaster, of Siksika Nation, said having the opportunity to compete was pretty cool.
“It’s very important. I’m glad I came. It’s a honour to be here,” McMaster said.
“I’m excited to play against these guys from all over the world,” said the long-time basketball player.
Spike Eagle Speaker Junior, of Siksika Nation, said his team played against the women’s team from New Zealand who were tough, but it was fun game.
“They were throwing us around. They should have worn these,” he said laughing and pointing to his team’s Stop Bullying T-shirt.
“They beat us up. But we won.”
He said the best part about the games is meeting the other teams and players. Everyone is a good sport and the spectators also enjoyed themselves.
Jesse Larocque, of Maskwacis, said the teams were competitive but it was all in good fun.
“The team was excited but also nervous. We’ve seen some of the other athletes walking around and they’re pretty big guys,” Larocque said.
Spectator Kelci Lightning, of Maskwacis, said she loved playing basketball when she was in school and she had a day off from work so she came out to watch.
She said you can tell the teams respected each other.
“I think it’s really exciting, especially here in Maskwacis, to have all this positive attitude and positive things going on here with all these sports. Hopefully it encourages more people here in Maskwacis to start playing more sports,” Lightning said.
World Indigenous Nations Games 2017 is being held at Enoch Cree Nation and Maskwacis until Sunday.