PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A local nonprofit that serves African immigrants and refugees in Portland is bringing back their annual basketball tournament after taking a hiatus last year due to the pandemic.
African Youth and Community Organization encourages team building, sportsmanship and transferable life skills with the event, now in its eleventh year.
In addition to sporting events–like basketball and soccer–the nonprofit also has education, health, family and social support services for community members within the Pan-African diaspora, with a majority of students and families hailing from Somalia.
Ahmed Ali, a cultural navigator for the nonprofit’s Uplift program, said connecting with students in the community who otherwise would not be aware of their services is just one aspect of the sporting event.
“Sure, they’re exposed to AYCO and what we provide and our services. But I think the most important thing is just so we’re there for the kids and make sure that they have a good time,” he said.
Ali said there’s been a growing need to serve the community members who they support, having gone from about five students in his caseload to about 25 in the past year alone.
Having been a participating athlete at the basketball tournaments in the past, Ali said he’s grown into the role of an organizer of the event this year.
“Every year that I play in the basketball tournament, I learn someone new. I got in touch with some of my best friends there,” he said.
The tournament is happening next Saturday, Aug. 28th, at the Beaverton Hoop YMCA from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Audiences will be required to wear a mask and socially distance, but the athletes won’t need to wear masks during games.
Sign up for participating is full up, but there is a waitlist you can join.
For more information on the tournament, contact Ali, via text only, at 971-227-5052 or Nuradin Abdirahman, Environmental Education Coordinator, via text only, at 971-227-502.