GODS LAKE NARROWS – A group of young basketball players from northern Manitoba are heading to Toronto after raising thousands of dollars online.
The Gods Lake Narrows School’s girls’ team raised more than $17,000 on a GoFundMe campaign to compete in the Gladiators Cup Tournament on April 1.
The fundraising efforts began in November when a 14-year-old girl on the team, Harmony Okemow, took her life that month. The tragedy sparked a campaign and fundraiser to honour her.
“This has left an emotional scar on the team. She was a loving and dedicated player,” the team’s coach, Kishma Davidson said.
Davidson is a math teacher at the school who also coaches the girls’ basketball team part time. There are 18 girls on the team ranging from ages 11 to 16 and many of them don’t have basic items to play in, such as basketball shoes and uniforms, Davidson said. Some girls even plat in their socks.
Davidson said she hopes that in light of the tragedy, the give the team can be gives the opportunity to discover the world outside of their community and experience self-growth.
“As most of our students come from low-income families, they have been deprived of opportunities that many other teenagers their ages are fortunate to enjoy,” she said.
“In addition, many of our students have never flown outside of Manitoba, which has limited the team’s ability to play against other teams outside of the community.”
Paige Okemow is a player on the team and also cousins with Harmony Okemow. She said hopes the trip will bring them team closer together.
“When we get there we will play hard for Harmony. We will try our best to win for her,” Okemow said.