Campus groups hosts basketball fundraiser for Syrian refugees

By Afnan Nehela

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

The University of Massachusetts’ Muslim Student Association and Amnesty International partnered up to organize a basketball fundraising event, “Hoops for Syria,” for Syrian refugees on Sunday April 2.

The event raised $1,000 for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Syrian emergency fund.

The president of Amnesty International at UMass, Nuha Muntasser, a senior economics major, said she wanted to focus on the athletic youth on campus.

“I wanted to organize an event that appealed to many students in the Five College community and mobilize them to partake in a cause that is very important in today’s political context. I am very happy with the turnout and that many people, some who don’t usually play basketball, came and supported such a cause,” Muntasser said.

Sakina Bengali, a junior sociology and psychology major, made it to the second round with her team.

“The competitive spirit [was] high but in the end we’re all here to support the plight of Syrian refugees, to let them know that there are people all around the globe who are thinking about them. They will always remain in our hearts,” said Bengali.

“I even created new bonds with my team members I didn’t know before, people who I would have never thought would play basketball,” he added.

More than 100 people attended the tournament with a total of 29 registered teams. Friends of players came to watch and cheer. Each team played two games in group stages, and the qualifying teams then went on to a 16-team single elimination bracket.

At halftime, a three-point contest was held where participants attempted to make as many shots as possible from five positions behind the three-point arc in one minute. The winner of that contest received $20.

John Gouvalaris, a management major, Davonte Higginbottom, a sport management major and John O’Brien, a sport management major, competed under the team name “D6 Bound” and were the winners of the tournament.

Co-president of the MSA and senior environmental science major Tooba Gilani, said that she was very pleased with the turnout of the event.

“The best part of this event for me was that we raised money for Syrian refugees. As a Muslim, helping those in need is one of the foundational pillars of the religion, and the fact I could participate in that is beautiful and humbling,” she said.

Gilani said it was rejuvenating for her to see people work passionately for a good cause.

“It reminds me of the goodness in all of us,” she said.

Afnan Nehela can be reached at [email protected]