Despite all the great club teams throughout Canada, there is not yet any national club championship for basketball. Plenty of other sports throughout this country have one. So why not basketball?
That was one of the main reasons for organizing Bballnationals, a club tournament that allows young athletes to play against the very best from across Canada. From August 2nd to 12th, teams from all across Canada will converge in the Langley Events Centre to decide who is the best of the best.
“The vision was to do something that hasn’t been done in club basketball before and fill a void” said Chris McLaughlin, Director of Marketing & Communications for Bballnationals. “The biggest thing that was noticed was provincial teams only have 12 people participate out of the entire province. There’s thousands of young athletes that don’t have the ability to play on the national stage, so we wanted to change that.”
After having just girls club teams last year, the tournament has expanded to include boys club teams as well. The tournament this year will have U13, U15, and U17 teams from both boys and girls clubs, and will have an open division on the girls side. Club basketball happens to be a common term in BC, but that term carries a different definition depending on where basketball is being played in the country. Year long programs, AAU, spring teams, summer teams, travel teams, and rep programs are all welcome to participate in the national tournament.
“We’re going to offer everyone an exhibition game, and then we’ll have three games of seeding, and the top two teams in each division will go competitive” said Basketball Coordinator Paul Langford. “We’re guaranteeing six games, and then the cream will rise to the top as the top categories will be pretty competitive.”
Bballnationals marks a truly Canadian club basketball tournament. Traditionally, most club team have had to play in the United States to go against top tier competition. With Bballnationals, the goal is to bring together programs across Canada and promote competition between different cities and provinces while cutting down on travel costs and giving exposure to kids who would like to play post secondary in USports or elsewhere. “I think connecting youth basketball programs across Canada would not only benefit the athletes, but also contribute to Canadian basketball culture as a whole” added McLaughlin.
As well, Bballnationals is only in its second year of existence — it is poised to become an integral part of the Canadian club basketball future for years to come.
“The ideal thing would be for teams to qualify” said Langford on the future of the tournament. “You’d have to lead your nationals and it would be a team focus.”
“One feature of the tournament to truly make it nationals is to move it around every year” commented McLaughlin. “After this year, the girls will go out to Ontario and the boys will stay in Langley. [. . .] It wouldn’t be fair to make teams fly out every year.”
Registration starts at $600 per team, and organizers have secured competitive rates for local hotels as well as airfare. There will be live streams of all games, as well as professional photographers to document all the action. Registration for the girls tournament is due July 1st, and registration for the boys tournament is due July 15th.
BC Sports Hub will have exclusive coverage of all the games throughout.
Written by: Nick Bondi