SAULT STE. MARIE -- A new basketball program in the Sault is helping to bring Indigenous youth into the mix, with a new partnership.

'EJ Ballers,' a new basketball program put together by the coach of Algoma University Men's Basketball Team, has partnered with the Indian Friendship Centre, giving Indigenous kids the opportunity to learn new skills, on and off the court.

"That's what happened with me, someone gave me an opportunity to play basketball," said Etienne "EJ" Jacquet, founder of EJ Ballers.

"I remember that time and I'm just trying to provide that for everyone."

Jacquet started the program earlier this fall, after months of no sports due to the pandemic.

He said he wanted to provide an alternative for kids to learn, instead of being forced to stay home.

"So far, the response has been fantastic," he said.

"Parents, the kids, everyone's loving this right now and the fact that we're able to open this up with the Indian Friendship Centre, makes it all the more worthwhile to spread that opportunity to everyone."

The program is open to kids as young as 8, but has also been expanded to young and older adults, over the age of 45.

Age groups will be split up into four different time slots:

8-11 (5 p.m.- 5:50 p.m.)

13-15 ( 4 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.)

16-21 (6 p.m. - 6:50 p.m.)

22-45+ (7 p.m. - 7:50 p.m.)

According to Jacquet, there are still spots available.

The camp runs every Saturday until Dec. 12.