Tip-off at colourfully upgraded basketball courts draws dozens of ballers

Dozens of young hoopers came out to break in refurbished basketball courts in Winnipeg’s River-Osborne neighbourhood Sunday.

The Mayfair Project, as it has been dubbed, saw the public court at the corner of River Avenue and Donald Street refurbished with new backboards and rims, as well as a second completely new court built next to it.

The project is an initiative of the Winnipeg Sea Bears, the city’s professional team, along with the non-profit Buckets & Borders, which builds and refurbishes basketball courts around the world. Winnipeg-based company Payworks also supported the project.

“We use basketball as a way to provide opportunities for youth and to really find something to love, which is for us [has] been basketball growing up,” said Buckets & Borders CEO Justin Lee. 

“Having events like this just ultimately promote people to pick up a basketball and play the game, or just be in an inclusive space which is what it’s all about.” 

Sunday’s festivities also included a free camp for kids, with Sea Bears players on hand to help out. There were also basketball competitions and an all-star game featuring local players.

A basketball player goes up for a dunk.
A young basketball player gets hoisted up to the rim Sunday. (Natalia Weichsel/Radio-Canada)

Sea Bears guard Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, who is from Winnipeg, was in attendance and said the atmosphere was amazing.

“It’s just great,” he said. “Growing up here and being from these communities, seeing everybody come together as one to celebrate basketball, which is growing a lot in Canada and for it to be also represented by Buckets & Borders and the Winnipeg Sea Bears, it’s just a phenomenal thing.”

The day was also a hit for some of the youngsters who participated, like Brett Delmonte-Lobban, who played in some of the games Sunday. 

A basketball sits on a court.
The brightly coloured courts are at the corner of River Avenue and Donald Street. (Natalia Weichsel/Radio-Canada)

“It just feels awesome, just sharing the love for the sport,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Lee said it was great to see so many people come out to the celebration and spend the day having fun together. 

“Sport is something that unifies us and I think we’re in a world that needs more of that than ever.”