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Hoopers of all skills invited to Newmarket basketball tournament

Proceeds from the 5th annual event on June 1 go to Youthspeak, which offers programs to empower minds, prevent bullying, and understand substance abuse, public speaking, online use
File photo/Greg King for NewmarketToday

Registration is now open for the fifth annual youth basketball tournament in support of Youthspeak on June 1.

Participants are encouraged to assemble their best team of players whether they can shoot a deep three, post up in the paint, set a pick and roll, or have other skills and talents on the court.

“It is a five-on-five youth basketball tournament,” said Una Wright, founder and executive director of Youthspeak. “It is a fun day for youth with varying skill levels to play basketball and have a great day. We have a DJ to play music. We provide refreshments for players, lunch and we’ll have a half-time skills challenge.”

Andrew Samwel, a real estate broker for Coldwell Banker The Real Estate Centre and an avid "hooper," is providing jerseys through his company and volunteering to run the tourney.

“My role is to plan the basketball operations for the day, getting teams signed up through my connections, however it is not my primary duty,” said Samwel. “My primary duty is to run the day, organize teams, make sure they have their sign-up sheets, jerseys and I will be announcing what teams are playing, what time, and keep track of the day.”

The tournament will take place at the outdoor courts beside Terry Fox Public School at 161 Sawmill Valley Dr. It will feature $1,500 in prizes. 

“We tend to attract competitive players,” said Wright. “It is intended for all levels of skills and all genders. We try to be inclusive in that regard and present it that way.”

Teams can consist of six to eight players. The registration fee is $125. The tournament is for teenagers aged 13 to 17 and runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Teams will have a chance to play three games each.

“I have been part of the basketball community for a very long time, and it is one of the best sports to play because it brings that community,” said Samwel. “Basketball is tight-knit.”

The charity provides interactive presentations featuring young people who have experience with mental health, inclusion, and other youth-related concerns. It has programs to empower minds, prevent bullying, and understand substance abuse, public speaking, and online use.

“We have been around for 20 years, and we hire and train youth who have lived experience with mental health and related issues,” said Wright. “Youth that have experienced bullying, potentially, racism, maybe online issues, substance issues.. and some challenges related to these topics and have overcome them.”

For more information about Youthspeak and to register, visit