Manitoba Indigenous Youth Ball Hockey Tournament inspires year-round dedication among players

The Manitoba Indigenous Youth Ball Hockey Tournament, held on Saturday, continues to inspire year-round dedication among its players.

This is the fifth year of the tournament and players are ready to test their skills against teams all over the province for two days.

Organizer Matt Nobess says 20 teams made it out this year. “We have teams from Berens River, Black River, Nelson House, Pukatawagan, Bloodvein Chemawawin, Pinaymootang – endless communities and players,” he said.

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The event has grown in attendance with every year, starting with only a dozen teams, and is attracting teams from other provinces, including Saskatchewan.

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Debbie Berens, who manages the teams from Berens River along with her husband says a competitive, provincial tournament is an opportunity these kids may not get in their small communities.

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“We like to keep our boys together and do these things for our kids because there’s not really much back home,” she said.

Berens’ teams, including her children, have been coming to the tournament since its first year. She says playing teaches them discipline, and teamwork and helps them know they’re valued.

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“It opens up a lot of doors for them, and then they’re building friendships with other youth.” she said.

For Nobess, it is a way to help children understand the value of determination and hard work. According to him, parents and coaches say it translates to other aspects of their lives.

“They’re doing much better in school, or they’re taking their health more seriously – like they’re looking at things like their diet and working out, and they want to prepare for this event,” he said.

Whether it’s winning together or losing together he says he hopes the kids keep training and competing and keeping those lessons with them into their adult lives.

— With files form Globals Katherine Dornian


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