The Manitoba Basketball African Association hosted its annual Ball for a Cause tournament, in which Winnipeggers from all over the African diaspora competed to help reduce period poverty for women and girls in rural Zimbabwe.
Dennis Maritim, the Ball for a Cause tournament's chairperson, previously played for Kenya. He stated that the basketball players as part of the civil society are participating for the love of the game and to help a good cause.
"None of the players are interested in the prize.... There is no reward ", in an interview with CBC Manitoba's Weekend Morning Show on Saturday, he told guest host Keisha Paul. "The emphasis is on the cause and just playing basketball."
The Grace & Nelly Project was the beneficiary of this year's tournament. Since 2016, the Winnipeg non-profit has trained over 150 women in rural Zimbabwe communities in business and entrepreneurship, as well as over 60 women and girls in the production of reusable menstrual pads.
According to Grace & Nelly's website, over 70% of Zimbabwean girls cannot afford menstrual products, and an estimated 5% drop out of school due to period poverty.
"We're excited to be a part of it," Maritim said. "Anything we can do to put them in a comfortable position so they can pursue their education and be the best they can be."
The Ball for a Cause tournament was founded four years ago by a group of Winnipeg friends who had immigrated from all over Africa, he said. It began as a way to play basketball for a good cause. "It just grew from there," Maritim explained. This year's tournament also featured a Caribbean united team and an African youth team.According to Maritim, the basketball played at Ball for a Cause is "artistic" while adhering to the rules. "There were a lot of oohs and ahhs" from the audience, he said.
Peter Smith, who has led the Sierra Leone team since the tournament's inception, said this year's tournament was special because people can now gather in greater numbers now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted. "I think it's always important to do something to bring the community together and have a good cause behind it," he said in an interview with CBC on Sunday. "It is always necessary to empower women and girls to further their education."He claims that there aren't many tournaments like Ball for a Cause in Winnipeg. He believes the games have a unique atmosphere that brings the African community together and that the tournament will continue to grow. "We're often just trapped in our own communities," he says. "It's a wonderful experience to bring everyone together."
This project manages to work on so many different SDGs at once. Not only are they reducing racial and gender inequality, but they are also providing an opportunity for individual and sustainable development, education in Zimbabwe.