By: Jamil Mahood and Nick Tanchuck

Young men and women from inner-city Winnipeg made their neighbourhood proud on Monday night. Six youths who grew up playing basketball at the Spence Neighbourhood Association brought home championship banners.  Making Spence Street sports history, youths from the neighbourhood played for champion teams at the Manitoba varsity high school basketball finals, for the Oak Park and Sisler high schools. And last weekend, youths from Spence also won the AAA junior varsity girls championship, playing for the University of Winnipeg Collegiate.

Spence Neighbourhood Association’s barrier-free sports programming is helping create winners.

The most valuable players of both the AAAA girls and boys provincial champions played their first league basketball games through the Spence programs: William Sesay, of the Oak Park Raiders, and Sisler Spartans' Kyanna Pingue-Giles (pictured top left). The same can be said for the MVP of the AAA Junior Varsity Girls final, Alicia Dunsford, of the U of W Collegiate, and her all-star twin sister Rachelle Dunsford. Likewise, for Sisler all-star Kyia Pingue-Giles and Liyanah Serapio, a Team Manitoba player and starter for Sisler.

More than 300 inner city-youths participate in the association’s programs, which eliminate barriers for youth in sports. All get to play sports, be part of a team and build healthy relationships with coaches and adult mentors.

The success of these student-athletes, supported by strong, loving families, is what happens when we invest in inner-city youth. Athletes in the program are supported by the U of W, Spence Neighbourhood Association, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg and the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba. Together these groups help provide uniforms, transport to games, quality coaching and healthy snacks. Family and mentors supported these youth as they developed as athletes, moving on to elite teams and competition. It was a community effort.


Will Sesay

Kyanna Pingue-Giles

Kyia Pingue-Giles

Liyanah Serapio

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