TORONTO, Ont. (June 23, 2021) – Canada Basketball and You Can Play announced Thursday an extension of their partnership as the two organizations continue to work to increase the level of inclusion in basketball for 2SLGBTQ+ athletes, coaches, officials and fans across the country.
Canada Basketball is the only current national sport organization (NSO) in Canada to have You Can Play athlete ambassadors as Olympian Shaina Pellington and Senior Men’s National Team veteran Kaza Kajami-Keane have both committed to using their voices to encourage inclusivity throughout the sport.
“I’m really passionate about LGBTQ+ rights in sport and beyond because I think it’s really important to have representation on all different levels of life,” said Pellington. “Seeing people that love the way I do, act the way I do and are involved in sport, it made it very surreal for me. It’s something that has helped me develop who I am as a person and make me more comfortable with myself.”
The pair will be walking in the upcoming Pride Parade in Toronto on Sunday, June 26th, along with athletes and representatives from Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), You Can Play, Canada Basketball, NSOs and local sport organizations.
“For me, I take it as an honour and privilege to be one of the first Canada Basketball members to be an ambassador for You Can Play,” said Kajami-Keane.
Through the partnership, You Can Play will also continue to provide education and training for Canada Basketball athletes, coaches, officials, and staff, as well as review the organization’s policies and procedures on an on-going basis to ensure inclusive language is used.
Additionally, the two organizations have partnered to work on building an Inclusive Coaching Guide which will be made available to thousands of coaches across Canada and around the world via Game Plan, Canada Basketball’s online coach education platform.
“Canada Basketball’s commitment to creating an inclusive and safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community extends far beyond the court”, said Denis Vachon, Partnerships Manager with You Can Play. “Their authentic efforts and outreach make them leaders of sport inclusion in Canada.”
You Can Play will be one of several community partners featured at the inaugural GLOBL JAM, an international U23 men’s and women’s NextGen showcase event that will shine the spotlight on the game’s rising stars, which runs July 5-10 at Mattamy Athletic Centre. Tickets are on sale now starting at $47 via Ticketmaster or visit globljam.ca for additional information.
Strategic and purpose-based partnerships are critical to Canada Basketball’s work towards its inclusion, equity and diversity goals and objectives as outlined in the organization’s UNIFIED 2024 program. Launched in 2021, UNIFIED 2024 is a multi-year program designed to establish the organization as a leader within the Canadian sports industry by 2024.
You Can Play works to ensure the safety and inclusion for all who participate in sports, including LGBTQ+ athletes, coaches, and fans. We achieve this by creating a community of allies that is able to foster a true sense of belonging. This becomes possible when sports teams sharpen the focus on the person’s skills, work ethic, and competitive spirit, not their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. The organization also works with professional sports leagues, teams, individual athletes, schools, and universities, with a genuine interest in promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion, from the locker room to their fanbase.