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La Liga del Barrio celebrates 10 seasons of hoops

“La Liga del Barrio is about community. It’s about family. It’s about playing a good game of basketball,” said Commissioner Raymond Alvarez of Philadelphia’s first Latino youth basketball league.

Each winter, La Liga’s volunteer coaching staff comes together for 13 Saturdays at Thomas Edison High School to provide a positive place for their youth to play some hoops and learn some important life lessons.

“There’s a need out there for these kids to get off the streets and do something more constructive than just standing on the corner,” Alvarez said. “Local children are able to play basketball in a safe environment, free of foul language or fighting.”

While the league is centered around playing basketball, the lessons taught extend further than just dribbling, passing, and shooting.

“The mission of the league is three-pronged,” said Alvarez. “We strive to educate our kids, to give the kids the opportunity to be accountable for their education and faith, and to play good basketball.”

Parents are required to stay and watch their children play in order to promote family values and players must keep their grades up to remain active in the league.

“La Liga means a lot to me because I’ve been coming here since I was little,” said Alvarez’s son, Raymond Anthony Alvarez. “It helps keep a lot of kids off the streets. It helps give the people in the community a safe place to enjoy each other’s company while playing some hoops”

Formed in January of 2000, the Sixers organization has had a lot to do with the league’s success. The Sixers assist by providing funds used to run the league. With the recent addition of Cricket Wireless as a league sponsor, the league is stronger than ever.

Commissioner David Solivan, (a high school administrator by trade), speaks highly of the Sixers involvement in the league.

“If it wasn’t for the Sixers organization, this league would not exist. In our community, La Liga del Barrio is now synonymous with the Sixers. Ownership has changed, management has changed, but the Sixers have been consistently with us.”

La Liga del Barrio will celebrate its 10-year anniversary when the Sixers take on the Charlotte Bobcats this Wednesday during a special halftime exhibition game among league participants.