Toronto Raptors games are one of the hottest tickets in Toronto right now! On March 20, almost 500 students and leaders gathered at the Air Canada Centre to witness a Raptors victory. What happened afterwards was even more significant.

As part of our post-game program, 80 students gathered on the court for our 90-second layup contest. All the churches were represented. Each contestant won a Raptors drawstring bag or a CBOQ Youth keychain (guess which one they wanted). We also had 12 contestants play BUMPs, with the 2 winners going head-to-head with Matt and Alvin. (Our youth staff got schooled; Alvin definitely needs to work on his foul shot …air ball). The winner walked away with a signed Cory Joseph jersey. Herbie Kuhn, the voice and co-chaplain of the Raptors, hosted our event.

All that was fun. But the testimony stories from Norman Powell (shooting guard for the Raptors) and Jama Mahlalela (assistant coach of the Raptors) along with Alyssa Oliver (from Spring Garden Church) were the highlight of the night. They articulated their walk with Jesus, both the highlights and the struggles. Each exemplified who Jesus is and how he influences them. One of our main reasons for hosting Centre Court is to provide opportunities for the invited friends of the attending youth groups to continue those faith conversations and hopefully move into a relationship with Jesus himself.

Here are some soundbites group leaders shared with us:

Centre Court gave a lot of our youth an opportunity to experience a Raptor’s Game for the 1st time, and was a huge experience for all. The program afterwards also had a big impact on a number of unchurched youth as well, giving them a glimpse into the life of a Christian Raptor player. (Steve B)

Centre Court was an inspiring moment for youths, it provided a moment of truth about “Maintaining positive relationships” & “keeping Christ at the front runner” (Audley G)

It’s a great way to bring our youth out to an event together. Although we are finding that some of our younger families want to come with their children. We don’t mind this as it is a easy way to give them a “taste” of our youth group and some intergenerational stuff. (Sam L)