In the Montreal basketball community, the voices were in agreement: The Montreal Alliance, a franchise newly incorporated into the Canadian Elite Basketball League (LECB), has the profile to create a new wave of enthusiasm for the already thriving sport.
Posted at 9:00 am
Alliance Vice President of Operations Annie Laroche noted on her arrival to the position that despite the increase in popularity, basketball is still very fragmented in Quebec. Whether it’s school, civic, or high performance, “everyone does things on their side,” she says.
We have to be the unifying element in all of this. The first role of a professional sports team is not to be a community organization, but a responsibility that comes with it.
For Joey McKitterrick, president of the Montreal Basketball League, the capital has been ready to welcome a true professional team for at least five years.
Mr. McKitterick is aware that other formations, such as Dragons, Matrix or Jazz de Montréal, have tried them in the past, in various circles. But unlike the Alliance, these clubs did not play in LECB, which it considers the “best professional league” that exists in Canada.
The person who runs the largest minors basketball organization in Montreal believes the alliance should do “a good job with kids ages 6 to 10.” If she wants to further the development of the sport, which is gaining more and more followers since the Toronto Raptors Championships in 2019, it will be necessary, in her opinion, to allow them to meet the players.
“Sport allows young people to be good at something and feel good. It helps with self-confidence and relationships… It’s hard to quantify the benefits. The alliance adds another layer to basketball: dozens of professional players are in town, showing young people what they can succeed in one day.” One. ”
This is good because Annie Laroche’s plan aligns with this vision. After 23 years of experience as a director of community relations with the Montreal Alouettes, in the Canadian Football League (CFL), the latter wants, as often as possible, to visit schools on the Big Island.
Our mission is to share. Yes, we offer high level entertainment and basketball, but our responsibility is also to develop the sport from our roots.
“Remove the roof”
Woodwendy Séraphin, co-founder of Dynastie Basketball Academy and coach at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, sees the creation of the Montreal Alliance as a solution to a problem that has long existed in the province.
There is currently a basketball goal in Quebec, because it is a school. If you are not exceptional, your career ends when you finish school. The Alliance allows this cover to be removed. It will help the youth to persevere.
At the age of 36, it was always believed that copying the American system (where schools run basketball programs) was not in Quebec’s favour. According to him, it is necessary to follow the European model, in which there are independent clubs that frequently welcome adult players.
“I have a lot of friends in France who played professionally, and were making $3,000 or $4,000 a month,” the coach says. Having learned this earlier, I would have thought highly of this avenue. Here, the lack of professionals hurts the dream. If you quickly realized you weren’t going to play in the NCAA or NBA, what would you do? Are you giving up? »
Woodwendy Séraphin himself was a former amateur player, struggling to find a downside to creating the alliance. “I think it will create an ecosystem for basketball. He expects there will be more coaches, referees and athletic coaches.
To make it work, Joey McKittyrick has one wish. “I hope they go to see the community, that they integrate, that their players are not foreigners,” he says.
Annie LaRouche, for her part, believes she is on the right track. With a bit of a Montreal touch, too.
“Having local players is crucial. We have chosen the best available for our workforce, but there is a lot of local talent,” she says. home, in my backyard, with my family and friends.” »