This is their first year in Brampton. The team is hosting a Caribbean Night on Friday, February 28 inside the Powerade Center (Kennedy & Steeles), to celebrate Black History Month, and the diversity in the City of Brampton. ByBlacks.com spoke to event organizer Charles Matthews of CMJ Entertainment.
What’s the overall goal of the event?
It’s twofold. Firstly, to show people that this is a professional league, not very different from the NBA teams. The only difference is free parking and cheaper tickets. And secondly, to advertise all our partners and let them know what the various businesses are about.
How did the concept for the Caribbean Night come about?
I pitched the idea to the marketing team for the Brampton A’s, as a way to help celebrate our Caribbean culture on the last day of Black history month (BHM). It also coincides with the last game of the season.
The NBL is a professional basketball league, with players, in my opinion at the same level as the NBA. With a number of Black players on the team, I figured it would be a great fit for BHM, to get people in Brampton to realize that there are entertainment options for people of colour in the community.
There are other great events like First Fridays in Toronto, and last year we opened up our first art gallery in Brampton. This event is geared towards bringing more awareness to the arts.
There is also the Rose Theatre that hosts many great events like jazz sessions, spoken word, and comedy.
Is the government involved?
We are promoting it as a Brampton unity event, and the Mayor of Brampton is on board, to throw up the game ball.
Tell me about the team, is there a star player?
Some of the coaches are ex NBA players, who have played with the likes of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Magic Johnson.
The most outstanding player on the team is probably Cavell Johnson, a 6’9” forward-center from Washington DC. Another person who is a wicked shooter is Cedric Moodie, 6’ 2” point guard from South Bend, Indiana. The team gels and plays well. When you ask fans who their favourite player is, the name changes after each game. They are very different from other professional teams.
After every home game, they go to the entrance and sign autographs and take pictures with the fans.
How many Canadians do you have on the team?
Four; two from Orangeville, one from Brampton, and one from Oakville; all the other players are from the States.
How has the team integrated with the city since they have operated there?
The team does basketball camps, and outreach into the community. They work with all the high schools in Brampton and have also partnered with Kennedy Road Tabernacle Church. They support the Stay in School program.
What’s the team current standings in the league?
They are currently in second place, out of the 10 teams in the zone.
What entertainment should people expect during the game?
The halftime show features a performance by dancers from Tre Armstrong's (So You Think You Can Dance) dance academy, A New Daei.
Over 31 youth from Tre’s dance academy, aged 5 -20, will be performing. The dancers will be incorporating various Caribbean dance styles into one exciting performance.
There’s also the Lady A’s cheerleaders, pre timeout shows, and of course our Mascot, a bulldog named Gus, providing comic relief.
We have a lot of giveaways going on that night, more than the normal game. There’s 60 seconds of madness, where the mascots, cheerleaders and the host will be throwing t-shirts, frisbees and free stuff into the crowd.
There is also a live DJ playing Caribbean music all night long, with myself and Kerry Lee Crawford from G98.7FM as the in-house announcer for the night.
We are also announcing the JNBS Essay winner on that night.
What are the game details?
The event is on Friday, February 28th, the game starts at 7 pm, inside the Powerade Centre, located at 7575 Kennedy Road South in Brampton, just south of the Kennedy & Steeles intersection. We’re playing against the London Lightnings.
Tickets are only $18 dollars for adults, and kids 5 and under are free.