INTENSIVE BALLS: PLAYING BETTER, ENGAGING MORE
In 2009, at the request of his cousin, Edmond created the basketball training program that became Les Ballons intensifs. Today, the camp welcomes 30 young athletes ages 11 to 19 each summer, five mornings a week for five weeks.
GETTING UP EARLY: A MEASURE OF MOTIVATION
The watchwords of these “intensives,” as the camp founder calls them: rise early, work hard and shine like the sun.
From the outset, the idea of training in the early morning was a practical consideration. But the creator of this camp (which is offered free of charge to teens in Pointe-aux-Trembles) sees another benefit.
“Since we’re asking them to actively participate in training and fundraising, making them get up early lets us know whether they are really committed to basketball,” Edmond said.
The training sessions aim to develop sports skills, but that’s not their only benefit.
“Our camp develops perseverance, self-confidence, the ability to excel and ambition,” says Edmond, who is known as “Coach Ernest” by campers.
Taking part in Ballons intensifs also strengthens ties with the community. As well as promoting friendships between participants from different schools, the camp requires efforts from campers, who are involved in its fundraising activities.
“We help teens learn how important community engagement is. We show them that you can create great things out of nothing, just by getting involved,” said Edmond.
CHANGING THE IMAGE OF BASKETBALL AND ITS FANS
Edmond is thrilled about the effect Ballons intensifs has had on people's perceptions of basketball.
“Basketball was associated with gangsters and kids who played basketball were marginalized,” he said. “We’re helping to give basketball a favourable image. Our participants become positive models and kids in their community identify with them.”
Expansion projects are being studied for other boroughs, including Montréal-Nord. Stay tuned – the program may come to a park near you!