4th Championship over, players honored

Liga del Barrio presents trophies to players
By T Martin

Ending its 4th Season, Philadelphia’s barrio basketball league honored program participants with trophies and MVP awards at its closing ceremony on Saturday, February 14th, at Edison High School in North Philadelphia. La Liga is one of few programs of its kind, designed to give students a positive incentive to stay in school and off the streets, even on Saturdays!

One team in the League receives their trophies before announcement of a MVP in their team.

Liga players gathered with their families in the school’s auditorium to receive their prizes, recognition for hard work and another great season. Emcee Ray Alvarez called teams and their coaches to the stage for their rewards and a photo by former City Councilman Angel Ortiz, who had spearheaded the project with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2000.

Liga coaches and other staff helped sort and distribute the trophies as children walked onto the stage with their respective coaches. While many of the youths seemed stoic about receiving the accolades, their proud parents were overjoyed and were sure to take lots of pictures of their children on stage.

Special guest Julani Ghana, 76er’s Community Relations Coordinator, merited a short break in the program to give a brief address to the youths and parents in attendance. He congratulated the league on completion of its 4th season and offered advice like “believe in yourself,” “stay in school,” and “be yourself.” His address was met with eager applause.

Mother and daughter (center) inquire about upcoming sports activities as opportunities for youth involvement.

As the program came to a close, the youths climbed onto the stage again to take home 76ers posters and some flyers announcing upcoming events, such as the “Midget and Teen Softball League” season opening. Several parents asked Liga staff and volunteers about ways to get or keep their children involved in the program and off the streets after-school and throughout the summer.

La Liga Del Barrio, sponsored by Old Navy and Verizon Wireless, is for boys and girls ages 6 to 16 and consists of 28 teams with 10 players per team. Participants receive an official La Liga Del Barrio T-shirt, and select participants have the opportunity to play on the 76ers home court prior to a game.