Hundreds of kids have a ball at Raptors’ Superfan camp in Mississauga

“This is important for me”: Nav Bhatia, Superfan

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More than 400 children got the star treatment at a basketball camp organized by Raptors’ Superfan Nav Bhatia in Malton over the long weekend.

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It was a project Bhatia worked on for years.

“This is important for me,” he said as he watched kids dribble and run drills on four courts he refurbished in Paul Coffey Park in Mississauga.

The Superfan Nav Bhatia Foundation held its first Fantasy Basketball Camp from July 29 to Aug. 1.

It rolled out the red carpet for 416 kids aged 8 to 14 to sharpen their basketball skills, build teamwork, and community.

The new courts and the experience were a slam dunk with the children, who also received a personalized jersey and locker, a basketball, hours of lessons, and new friendships.

“It’s just a great opportunity to be here and I’m really grateful that I got the chance,” said Ayla Chang. “Personalized jerseys with your team and it’s just a really special experience.”

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The camp also included an all-star introduction for each player, and a mock news conference.

“I’ve been to several camps throughout the years, and this is one of the best we’ve been to,” said Lloyd Wyse, whose daughter, Amor, attended. “We, as parents, love to see our children have fun, learn new skills, and develop friendships.”

Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia with groups of kids at his first basketball camp at Paul Coffey Park in Malton. SCOTT LAURIE/TORONTO SUN
Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia with groups of kids at his first basketball camp at Paul Coffey Park in Malton. SCOTT LAURIE/TORONTO SUN

In February 2020, Bhatia approached the city about the well-worn courts in the park.

“I came here four years ago and all these courts were destroyed, unsafe,” he said.

So he donated $150,000 for a renovation.

“He is so generous and open and such a wonderful person. It’s such a great opportunity,” said Andrea DaSilva, whose daughter, Angelica, was thrilled about the drills.

After months of construction, the courts launched in September 2021.

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Bhatia spoke about one way he knows the community investment is well worth it: the tears shed by some parents this weekend.

“They drove all the way from Trenton. They said ‘you made us feel like family’. When they left yesterday, they were crying,” he said. “Another parent cried when they saw the locker rooms. When I saw that, it gave me goose bumps.”

Tessa Newell said the weekend is something her children will not forget.

“Malton is a small community. So to see something like this happen, it truly means a lot,” she said. “There’s not a lot of things for the kids to enjoy. For Superfan to be doing this, it’s great.”

Bhatia’s foundation is aiming to make this an annual event, and also spread it across the country.

“I’ve had kids come and tell me they don’t want to take their jersey off,” said Rinku Ghei, who collaborates with the foundation’s efforts.

“At the end of the day, they’re not going to forget this.”

[email protected]
Twitter: @_ScottLaurie

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