Players George Robinson and Dave Griffin take a bite out of their gold medal at the Pan Pacific Games in Gold Coast Australia this month. (Contributed Photo)

Nisga’a members part of B.C. basketball team that won gold in Pan Pacific Masters

Games were held in Australia

Two Nisga’a members were part of the All-Native team that took home gold in basketball at the Pan Pacific Masters Games in Gold Coast, Australia this month.

Dave Griffin from Gitwinksihlkw and George Robinson from Gitlaxt’aamiks, joined five other team members to compete in the 50 and over category in the world’s biggest masters games proving to everyone that age is indeed just a number.

“I think it’s nice to come home and share with your friends that the sport doesn’t have to end,” says Griffin. “As long as you have the will to play, there’s a place to play and you can still feed that competitive spirit.”

READ MORE: Terrace Indigenous skater takes front page of US magazine

For seven days straight, the All Native Warriors team dribbled their way to first place without ever playing as a team until the games. Coming from across B.C. and Alberta, the players kept in touch online to organize the tournament and encourage one another to stay in shape.

“We knew what we could bring as individuals, and we got stronger with every game,” says Griffin. “We complemented each other well and had a lot of fun.”

Griffin says that many members knew of each other or have competed against one another at some point during their sporting days, so it was interesting to see how they meshed together. They claimed the top title by defeating the Melbourne Jets by 14 points.

“Every single player was a team-first player, there was no ego — we were just playing for the love of the game and everyone’s skills were able to shine,” says Griffin.

The Pan Pacific Games was held between Nov. 2 – 11, with 42 different sports and more than 15,000 different athletes from around the world. The tournaments were held in the facility that hosted this year’s Commonwealth Games. The All Native Warriors were the only Canadian team in their division.

READ MORE: Indigenous athletes honoured at Premier Awards

Griffin and Robinson both grew up playing basketball in the Nass Valley and oftentimes were opponents when playing minor leagues in school. Griffin says having the chance to play together built up their mutual respect.

This is the second master’s tournament the team took part in. The first one was in Auckland, New Zealand two years ago where the team placed fourth. Robinson says it was eyeopening for the team to realize they played just as well as other nations and decided they would come back for another try, with their goal to be in the top three.

”We wanted to show our own, all of our nations in B.C., that it can be done,” says Robinson. “We got the guys together who wanted to play, saved up some money and off we went.”

They also received a grant from the Nisga’a government to financially support their trip overseas, along with their communities who helped them with some of the costs. Griffin says they’ve received a lot of positive social media messages from everyone who was following their journey abroad. He says they hope to give back by encouraging more people in their nations to compete on a higher level.

Robinson says they’ve thought about going back to the Gold Coast in 2020 to defend their title at the Pan Pacific Masters Games and are even considering competing in Japan for the World Games in 2022. It may be a few years away, but he says winning first place this year was, “like waking up to Christmas morning,” and now anything is possible.

When they weren’t shooting hoops, the All Natives did take some time to soak up the sun. They parasailed, jet-skiied, snorkelled through coral reefs and even cuddled with a few koalas.

“If you’re going to go halfway around the world, you better take in some of the sights,” says Griffin. “It’s funny over there, you can pet a kangaroo there in the morning and then make a steak out of them at night.”


 


natalia@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

(Left to right) Dave Griffin, Cliff Starr, Scott Adams, Cliff Freigin, Frances Erasmus, Mike Wilson, and George Robinson. James Harry was on the team, but had to fly home for a family emergency. (Contributed Photo)

Just Posted

Terrace RCMP respond to firearms call on South Side

One person arrested without incident

The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine office in Terrace is now open to the public

The office has been closed since March 17 due to COVID-19

New technology is helping battle avalanches near Stewart

The automated avalanche detection system just finished a successful first season

BC Hydro studying new power connection in northwest B.C.

Would supply hydro-electric power to planned LNG plant at Kitimat

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Facing changes together: your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Bateman program encourages people to sketch outside, connect with nature

#MyNatureSketch initiative encourages Canadians to become ‘bright-eyed three year olds’

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Most Read