The West Island Lakers Basketball Association (WILBA) is a non-profit organization which was started in the 1960’s under the guidance of the YMCA. Membership has grown to over 700 members, starting at pre-novice (7 years of age) up through juvenile (17 years of age). Due to popular demand, a girls league was started in 1999, and there are currently teams in the mini and bantam/midget level. Coaches and assistant coaches receive training through clinics, and referees and minor official staff are developed from within the organization. The house league season starts in October and goes through till the end of March with playoffs (except at the pre-novice level). Players come from all the West Island communities: Pointe Claire, Kirkland, Dorval, Beaconsfield, Dollard Des Ormeaux, Pierrefonds, Baie D’Urfe, Ste. Anne-de-Bellvue, Hudson, St. Lazare, as well as Montreal and Laval. In 2000, the Association joined with Trevor Williams (a well-known basketball player who played for Team Canada in the 1996 Olympics) to offer a basketball camp in the West Island. The camp was sold out and a great success for the campers.
In the mid-nineties, the association started the House League All Star Day to showcase the enormous talent in the league. It was decided to hold this event on the last Sunday of January, every year. Each year since the initial event, All Star day has become bigger and better as more parents, grandparents and friends coming out to watch this spectacle. At each level (pre-novice, novice, mini boys, mini girls, bantam boys, bantam/midget girls, midget boys and juvenile) the league convenors and coaches select the top players from their teams (for a total of 20 players per level). Each team is represented by a minimum of 2 players. The convenors select 2 honorary coaches from their level who best represent the spirit of the league. Games are played with equal participation, so that all players have the same number of shifts. The quality of games and atmosphere during the tournament is superb. Players receive awards after the games for being selected as All Stars.
In 2001, the West Island Lakers Basketball Association became affiliated with the Sian Bradwell Fund. The profits from the All Star tournament weekend on the last weekend of January at John Rennie High School in Pointe Claire are donated to the Fund, which purchases medical equipment for the Montreal Children’s Hospital to provide better diagnosis and treatment for children with cancer. Funds are raised through the sale of refreshments at the canteen, a prize draw, and the collection of donations.
To learn more please visit WILBA’s website.