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Operation Amigo To Bounce A Different Way On This Trip

By Gord Montgomery
Sports Editor
Stony Plain Reporter/Spruce Grove Examiner

Their main mission may have been built around the funding and construction of homes, a church, and a school in Mexico but this time around the trip is all about basketball for those involved with Operation Amigo.

Roc Weigl, who heads a contingent of 10 including himself, said the Stony Plain-based group will head south in the near future with the plan of teaching the skills of the game of hoops to Mexican junior high and high school kids, who eagerly await their presence.

“We have sponsored Operation Amigo for the past 15 or so years,” Weigl said. “I offered that which I do in our community which is basketball this time. I wondered if our basketball community, and our community which is Stony Plain, could do this for the high school there.”

That offer was actually proffered about four years ago but was finally grabbed onto and will be a part of the dedication of the new school and gym which Operation Amigo had a part in constructing.

To help create this special how-to clinic, the local volunteers who include Weigl’s family unit – Laura, Rocky, Rochelle, Laurelle and Laurissa along with Tony Cherfan (the coach of the Stony Memorial Comp senior boys’ basketball team), Megan Rhodes, Kyle Palmer and Brayden Tegart, are all donating their time at the camp along with the costs for getting to Esparznsa, Mexico.

“We were looking for something that had more of an international flavour to it,” Roc stated about this plan. “We’re doing so much basketball in our community that I wanted to create an opportunity for people in basketball here to have a more global outreach.”

Interestingly enough, Roc said he wasn’t real sure what the reaction was going to be to this idea as he isn’t certain how popular the sport of basketball is in Mexico, a country  ruled by the sport of football (soccer).

“I’m only told what the interest levels are,” he said. “Mexico has produced a pretty good (international) team. I’m told there will be about 75 kids from the high school participating in the basketball camp and there are about 75 as well from the junior high school.”

As part of the fund raising for their journey, the local group is hosting a Mexican dinner and Halloween party on Sunday, Oct. 31 at the former PERC Building in Stony (5413 – 51 St. by the Multicultural Centre) beginning at noon.

“This is an opportunity for people here, who have so much, to give to others, to help develop a long term relationship with the school and to build relationships down there,” Roc said.

“Some of the coaches in Edmonton like to take kids to the high-profile places like Las Vegas that they pay a lot of money to go to.

“I wanted to give a different option – let’s go to a small, struggling place and let’s go make an impact there.

“It won’t be glitzy and glamourous like Las Vegas but it will be significant to everyone involved.”

The goal of the fund raising event is around $2,400 to be used for portable hoops to go along with the donated gear that has already been committed to this project.

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