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Teens train for 'fast-paced' basketball at International Children's Games in Mexico

Team of local athletes trains in Collingwood and will be playing 3 v 3 basketball for the international tournament

For the first time, a team from Simcoe County is competing in the International Children's Games (ICG) this month.

Team Simcoe, a 3 v 3 boys U14 team, has been put together and is training for the 56th games in León Mexico from July 15 to 20.

More than 1,500 youth athletes, between the ages of 12 to 15, from 100 countries will be gathering to compete and participate in the international event with the philosophy of bridging cultures and promoting understanding.

"It’s like the Olympics. It’s multiple sport competitions at the same time," said Sherri Branscombe, the head of delegation for the team and a resident of Wasaga Beach.

Branscombe learned about the ICG from an athlete acquaintance who had competed in tennis as a girl and later organized a girls' volleyball team.

Branscombe, a sports management professor at Humber College, was interested in putting together a team.

"We have high-level basketball players so we can put together a competitive team from the small towns," she said.

Typically, teams represent a city, but as players locally are spread out, they opted for a county team, which was endorsed by Simcoe County Warden Basil Clarke. 

Jason Branscombe, Sherri's husband, is the head coach. He has been coaching the Barrie Royals Basketball Club for the last three years. He also coaches with the Ontario Basketball Association and Canada Basketball's Junior Academy Program.

“I said to my husband do you want to go to Mexico? I will put a team together. Do you want to coach?"

Sherri is doing the administration work and got the team registered with the ICG.

“Once you are accepted the first year, you are invited back, so we can go annually,” she said.

The team consists of Cade Branscombe, 14, (Sherri and Jason's son) Liam Fraser, 13, from Collingwood, Ryan Buchanan, 13, from Thornbury and Darius Bouchard, 13, who just moved to Barrie from Midland.

The boys all play with the Barrie Royal Rep Team. Liam and Cade have been part of the Canadian Basketball's Junior Academy Program.

Liam recently returned from the Quai-54 Tournament in Paris, held June 22 and 23. It's the world's biggest street ball tournament. There were 16 elite teams from 10 countries. Fraser's Orangeville Prep team swept the tournament. 

So, going to Mexico is his second international tournament. For the other three, it's their first international tournament.

“I’m looking forward to playing with these guys. Just the experience all around. There is bigger and better players around the world. It will be good opportunity for us to get better and hopefully medal or win,” Liam said.

Darius said, “I’m definitely excited. We are a hard working group of guys and we all have good experience. I’m looking forward to using my experience to help us get above the other teams because when it’s prime time, it’s my time," he said breaking out in a laugh.

Cade said, “I’m looking forward to facing new competition in a different style of play and I’m excited for Mexican food too.”

Ryan said he's looking forward to “seeing the competition around the world and beating them.”

Sherri said she is very proud of the boys and looking forward to them expanding their horizons.

“The games represent a real experience for high-level competition and also culture and friendship,” she said.

Jason said the 3 v 3 play presents the boys with a challenge as they are all skilled at regular 5 v 5 style of play.

“It’s going to be a good experience because 3 v 3 is a different style of play than standard basketball. It’s a faster-paced game with different rules. We only play on the half court and we only have 12 seconds to shoot versus 24 seconds," he said.

The team has been practising Friday afternoons at the new All Around Athletics Centre in Collingwood, which opened in March. Owners Jacob Carr and Matt Campbell are sponsoring the team by donating court time.

“It’s an opportunity for them to have a spot to practice for their tournament and we are just getting started, so it seemed like a good fit,” Carr said.

Anyone interested in following the team should check out the team's Instagram page: @3v3simcoe_icg_2024.

For more information about the games, go to the website:

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Gisele Winton Sarvis

About the Author: Gisele Winton Sarvis

Gisele Winton Sarvis is an award winning journalist and photographer who has focused on telling the stories of the people of Simcoe County for more than 25 years
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