Hardcourt Role Models

By Sara Faruqi, Toronto Police Service Published: 4:10 p.m. July 14, 2014

Youth from the Esplanade and officers from 51 Division played a friendly game of basketball at the Esplanade Basketball Court on July 13, 2014.

A line up of men in dark blue basketball uniforms with their backs to the camera, while the one in the middle is hugged by a young man in a red shirt who is facing the camera.
Curtis Crane, a player from the Esplanade Youth Movement, hugs a player from the Toronto Police team after the game.

The purpose of the event was to bridge the gap between the youth in the neighbourhood and the police, according to the event organizer Deborah Crane. 

Crane had seen her son go through some challenges with police and decided to step up as a mother and community member and gather strong role models for the young people in her community. She felt youth in her neighbourhood needed officers they could trust and a community basketball game was just the way to make that introduction. 

The relationship between police and youth can be difficult on both sides, according to Constable Crispin Barnes. 

“Using sports to get in touch with the community is the best way (to get to know each other),” said Barnes, who was introduced to many young people from the area through last year’s tournament. 

While the boys played a good game, they were defeated 42-35, by the police team.

Photo Journal of the Game

A man in a blue basketball jersey face towards camera, takes a shot with the ball up in the air and two players on ether side.
O'Neil Watson, from the Toronto Police team, takes a free throw at the 5 on 5 Basketball Tournament at the Esplanade basketball court on July 13.
A tall man with his arms over his head and a basketball in his hands is surrounded by two young men in red basketball jerseys trying to block him.
Player Scott Sheppard from the Toronto Police team tries to pass the ball.

According to Barnes, who refereed the game, members from both teams have played competitively so spectators got to watch the best of the best. 

With some good music and even better food by volunteers from the Esplanade Youth Movement, many community members from the neighbourhood came down to watch the game. 

“I think it is a great initiative and something for youth to aspire to,” said Roxanne, a local resident. 

Givon Luxmore, 21, who lives in the neighbourhood and took part in the game, thought it was a good way to show the younger generation that they can have a good relationship with police. 

“The older generation, we don’t have a problem with the police. It’s the younger generation,” he said, adding that it was for them (the older boys) to interact with officers and show the younger teens that “they (police) were friendly guys too.” 

For Crane, this interaction through sports has worked, her son, Curtis, has now found a strong role model in Barnes, she said. 

A Toronto Police team member in blue uniform with the basketball in his hand runs faces off against a member of the opposing team.
Toronto police team member O'Neil Watson faces off a young opponent.
TPS crest watermark