After a basketball clinic was cancelled in Mistissini, William MacLeod had an idea. Mistissini would host a basketball tournament.

MacLeod, who is executive director of Mistissini Band Council, told The Nation that he came up with the idea after listeningto the youth in Mistissini. Mistissini youth had been talking about starting up a league and many were putting up basketball hoops behind their houses. The Band Council put up a couple outside the Mistissini arena. They see a lot of use.

MacLeod sees basketball as an alternative to hockey and broomball. “Don’t get me wrong,” he says. “There is nothing wrong with hockey or broomball. But not everybody is into it. Basketball is also an inexpensive sport for the youth to get into.”

For the last three years, Mistissini youth have been attending basketball clinics and wanted more.

On August 23, a meeting was held with the Mistissini recreation department to discuss hosting the First Regional Invitational Basketball Tournament. At this meeting, the tournament date was set for Oct. 6-9, and recreation co-ordinator Hugo Cowboy took up the task of setting it up. He got together a committee of volunteers and started to work.

A decision was reached that the tournament would be open to more than just the Cree communities. This resulted in seeing players from places like Chibougamau going up against usually isolated Cree teams.

How would this turn out? The results speak for themselves. “The caliber of basketball was very good,” said MacLeod. “We wanted to see the same type of things as the hockey and broomball tournaments and we got it. I think we’ll be seeing much more of this type of thing in the future.”

Chisasibi and Eastmain are now considering holding their own regional tournies.

The Nation talked to Sarah Glisky, the Chisasibi recreation co-ordinator, about this and future tournaments. Glisky told The Nation that Chisasibi sent five teams to the Mistissini tournament. About 40 people from Chisasibi went on a trip full of surprises.

“One of our vans broke down about 60 kilometres from Nemaska,” she said. “We had to find places for everybody and they were saying the road had washed out. So we would’ve been stuck in Nemaska anyway.”

Glisky also said the Nemaska people were great and helped out a lot. Arrangements were made that, from Mistissini, vehicles would be waiting on the other side of the wash-out to pick up Chisasibi players. Fortunately, the wash-out was passable and this wasn’t needed. Chisasibi went on to see two of its teams win.

“The whole tournament was a lot of fun,” said Glisky.

Chisasibi is looking at the possibility of holding a basketball tournament in the new year.

The results of the First Regional Invitational Basketball Tournament are on pages 22 and 23.