Inaugural cane ball tournament a big hit

<strong>LOGAN—</strong>The first ever Cane ball tournament took place Saturday  at Willow Park. The event was sponsored in part by the Loaves and Fishes Community Meal, The Cache Valley Rotary Club, and The National Children’s Study.

“The Loaves and Fishes mission is a community bridge to bring people of different ethnicities and economic levels together,” said Amy Anderson, a representative of The National Children’s Study and Loaves and Fishes. “Today was to bring a part of the Burmese culture to the community at large.”

Cane Ball is like volleyball with your feet. There are three people a side and you get three hits to put the ball over to the other side using anything but shoulders and arms. The nets are a little more than five feet high and the game is traditionally played with a ball woven from strips of cane, thus the name. The match is best of three with the games going to 15, and is side-out scoring, which means to score you must be serving.

“In free time, when in a refugee camp, we used it to pass time,” said Nyunt Aye a translator for the Burmese community who came up with the idea for the tournament. “Lots of people spend (their) whole lives in camp with no opportunity for (a) future. When they get here, we still have (this) love for the sport.”

Many of these immigrants work hard making a living at JBS USA and most don’t know the English language, although they are being tutored through the English Language Center. Some have only been in the country for a few weeks.

“Imagine yourself being thrown into a foreign country by yourself,” said Dr. Ed Redd who works with the refugees through the health department. “It may be a land of opportunity and a place to earn a living for yourself and maybe a family, you are more or less alone. We’re hoping that activities like this will keep them involved in the community, making friends, and out of trouble.”

Even the sweltering heat couldn’t keep more than 26 people from coming to enjoy an opportunity to play organized cane ball. Six teams participated in the friendly competition of spiking the ball with your feet, heading it over the net, and doing gravity defying flips to hit the ball past defenders and score points. The fun could be seen on the faces of the players and spectators as smiles beamed in all directions.

“We decided that we would sponsor this and see what the turnout is,” said Steve Skinner who is with the Cache Valley Rotary Club. “With today’s turnout we’re going to keep doing this and more often.”

“They love this sport,” Redd said. “It’s a lot of fun both to watch and for them to play. I hope it keeps growing and brings them into the community.”

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