Kingfisher Lake First Nation hosts top Indigenous volleyball players in big money tournament
First Nations volleyball players from Northwestern Ontario are at Kingfisher Lake First Nation for a high stakes tournament.
Twenty-eight teams, made up of players ages 13 to 47, compete for the top prize of $25,000 in games at the local gym. The five-day tournament ran throughout the week, with matches running from 9:30 a.m. to midnight.
« We come together, the kids come together, we all come together as a nation to build friendships and show off their skills on the pitch, » said Priscilla King, who is one of the organizers of the event along with her husband. Chris.
The people of Kingfisher Lake hosted 21 teams from outside the community. Visitors stay with local families, make trips to and from games, and the community hall serves as a kitchen for meals, King said.
« We welcome them, we provide meals, we provide transportation, » she said. “Community members, even the elders, are really supportive of the event. You see the elders throughout the day in the gymnasium. There is even a section in the gymnasium, where it is only the elders . »
Volleyball is very important to First Nations in Northern Ontario. Earlier this summer, the Treaty 3 Titans won nine medals, including four gold and one silverat the Ontario Indigenous Summer Games in Ottawa.
The exhibit sparked interest from college scouts across southern Ontario, and some were expected to come to Kingfisher Lake, although they were unable to arrange their trip in time, King said.
The tournament even drew Kingfisher Lake MPP Sol Mamakwa and Nishnawbe Aski Nation leaders, who faced local Kingfisher Lake leaders in a three-game series on Thursday afternoon.
Danno Moose plays with the Cobras, one of two Poplar Hill First Nation teams, which were 5-1 going into the playoffs on Friday. He is known as Superman because of the T-shirts he wears to games.
« We have a good team – we’ve been together since 2016, » he said. « It’s our first time in Kingfisher, it’s a good community. »
Despite their previous success, Moose said it was too early to tell what their chances of winning the $25,000 in prize money were.
« We played at Webequie [First Nation] last year and I won. We played in another tournament two years ago and won there too, [but] there are a lot of good teams here,” Moose said.
He noted Kingfisher Lake’s top talent and said he was impressed with some of the young players he faces. Poplar Hill’s youth team was undefeated in its division heading into the playoffs.
« It’s a great place to play fun games, » Moose said. « It’s been a great trip. »
The tournament runs until Saturday (August 27).