Portage la Prairie School Division middle school students will be balling out this weekend.

The division is hosting a tournament for over 100 boys and girls middle school basketball players on Friday and Saturday.

Darin Arnold, Grade 10 Vice-Principal at Portage Collegiate Institute (PCI), is one of the tournament organizers. He says he is thrilled to do his part in giving Portage la Prairie youth an opportunity to develop.

file photoDarin Arnold, Grade 10 Vice-Principal at Portage Collegiate Institute.

"It's very exciting to put on, and it's more playing time for the kids, more basketball development for the kids. I know I've been talking to some of the middle school kids and coaches, and they all seem very excited to do it." 

Games will begin Friday afternoon and wrap up Saturday, according to Arnold.

"We know how much basketball is growing, right? Basketball is the fastest-growing sport in the country, right? The success that the Raptors have, the Sea Bears in Winnipeg, like basketball, is growing huge. It's a fairly accessible. Like all they need is a good pair of shoes and that's it. So, we want to try to get kids as active as we can. I love basketball. I love the sport. It's brought me so many opportunities throughout my life that I want to make sure that all the youth growing up in Portage get the same opportunities."

Arnold, who coaches basketball at PCI, hopes that the students will use this experience to further their game for when they represent the Trojans emblem in high school.

"Something like this gets more kids involved. When the kids come to PCI, and we compete against the high school teams in Winnipeg, they're not used to playing as much basketball as everybody in Winnipeg does. There are a lot more opportunities in Winnipeg to play. Transportation isn't much of a problem there, so I'm just excited that the kids get to play more games, and I know they're excited, too."

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Arnold says that the tournament will use rules from Winnipeg Minor Basketball to ensure fair play. 

"We'll be stopping the game every four minutes and substituting fresh lines. It just gives them all a chance to play a good amount of minutes, get the ball in their hands more, and develop some skills."