By Sam Loveys
The Ottawa Basketball Network tipped off when over 70 local basketball organizations and leaders gathered last month in hopes of developing increased collaboration, facilities and equity for their sport.
The Ottawa Basketball Summit brought together representatives from local clubs, all four Ottawa school boards, the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Tourism, universities and many more on June 10 to run through the challenges and opportunities the basketball community is facing and talk extensively about the future.
“There’s a great need for infrastructure and an even stronger need to collaborate between different clubs and basketball spaces,” highlights Ottawa Sport Council president Mathieu Fleury, who’s also a board member for the Ottawa Basketball Network, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to connecting, advocating and enabling the betterment of basketball in Ottawa.
The wide-ranging meeting was spearheaded by Ottawa Basketball Network founder Leo Doyle, a vice-president for the Ottawa Shooting Stars club.
“At the Basketball Summit one of the overwhelming messages was that we need some multi-court facilities, we rely too much on the schools,” he highlights. “When you’re dealing with the four school boards in Ottawa, the community use of schools funding has been cut, so they don’t have the staff to even respond to gym permit requests and amendments.”
Access to gym space has been a long-standing issue for the basketball community. For example, Doyle details, schools won’t share their gym rental schedules.
“Often you’re competing with other organizations that you’re not even aware you’re competing with. If you knew about one another, you could say ‘let’s run this (program) together,’” highlights Doyle.
Another problem, he adds, is that youth basketball groups can rarely access many school gyms near LRT stops such as Fisher Park, Adult High School and Ottawa Tech. Adult users play there frequently, which disadvantages youth – and particularly low-income youth – who often need to get themselves to their games without a car, Doyle says.
“We can use the schools more efficiently,” he underlines.
The need for more courts stems from a positive place – there is very high and growing interest in kids wanting to play basketball, outlines Doyle, whose organization would like to encourage the government to implement new policies and provide funding that allow these communities to grow.
There were many more topics discussed, such as groups working together to book referees. The Ottawa Basketball Network is now pulling together all the feedback received at the Summit to plan its next steps.
“I’m really optimistic,” Doyle signals. “Coming out of this, there was a lot of talk of the need and value of collaboration.”
– with files from Dan Plouffe
This article is part of the Ottawa Sports Pages’ weekly Inclusion in Sport series. Read more about local sport inclusion initiatives at: OttawaSportsPages.ca/Ottawa-Sports-Pages-Inclusion-In-Sport-Series/.
HELP SHINE A LIGHT ON LOCAL SPORT! The Ottawa Sports Pages has proudly provided a voice for local sport for over 10 years, but we need your help to continue another 10 and beyond. Please donate to the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund today.