Langley athletes Tanner Jung and Joel Aukema played host to a few dozen fellow wheelchair basketball players on home court in Langley City.
It was a competition that they and other members of Team BC invariably lost. But the two days of play at Timms Community Centre was about more than winning and losing, said Nadine Barbisan, acting manager of program development for BC Wheelchair Basketball Society.
“It was a exhibition tournament for the Canada Winter Games that are coming up in 2019 – they will be held in Red Deer, Alta.,” Barbisan said.
“It was simply to get these athletes more time playing together and against other team from across Canada.”
The three provincial teams that kept the ball moving in the Timms gym both Saturday and Sunday (Jan. 27 and 28) were Quebec, Alberta, and B.C.
This province’s team was made up of the Langley boys, plus other Lower Mainland players such as Chilliwack’s Ben Hagkull, Abbotsford’s Ben Garrett, Anmore’s Thomas Venos, as well as players from Pender Island, Victoria, and Prince George.
All the players who participated, ranging in age from about 14 to 21 years of age, have been selected as Canada Games athletes.
“Not all provinces have selected their final rosters, but all the athletes out [last] weekend are in the running to be on the provincial Canada Games team,” Barbisan explained.
She noted that level of experience for these athletes range from one to 12-plus years.
“Some athletes have been playing since they were five years old, and some started a year or two ago,” she said, impressed by the quality of athleticism demonstrated over the course of the tourney.
“This sport is an inclusive sport so anyone can play, able bodied or a person with a disability. We have some athletes who were born with their disability or some that acquired their disability later in their life – also some athletes who got involved by simply trying the sport and enjoying it and got more involved as an able bodied person,” she elaborated.
Timms Community Centre hosted this tourney in part because of its accessible facilities and available time. But, Barbisan said it’s also because of its proximity to other resources including hotels and restaurants for athletes and team members visiting from out of town.
Will future wheelchair competitions be held at the Langley City facility?
“I would hope to,” Barbisan said.
“We do use the Timms Community Centre, among other facilities around the Lower Mainland, for performance camps and wheelchair basketball specific events…,” she said. “Trinity Western University and Timms Community Centre are accessible and able to get us court time.”
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