An Indigenous basketball association in southern Alberta says a decision by the Calgary Basketball Officials Association (CBOA) to refuse to referee games involving any of its teams is racist.

Four teams from the Kainai Basketball Association (KBA) are scheduled to play in the Stampede Showdown tournament in Calgary this week. But the association says it was told the CBOA is refusing to send referees to work any of its games.

“The ban they have is disgusting,” said Truman Soop, a coach with the KBA “It’s outright racist and it makes me sick to my stomach.”

The four KBA teams were informed last Friday that they had been kicked out of the tournament. But on Tuesday, the association was told they were allowed back in after tournament organizers made plans to use referees that aren’t part of the CBOA for its games.

Soop said the issue between the CBOA And KBA stems from a dispute between a Kainai high school coach and a referee. It’s not clear exactly what the dispute was, but the K.B.A. Says the coach involved has no involvement with the four teams signed up for the Calgary tournament.

In a statement to CTV News, CBOA president Patrick Cabel said the organization “experienced an incident earlier this year that it felt jeopardized the safety and security of its referees.” Cabel added the group’s concerns go beyond just one individual and there was no guarantee the people involved in the incident wouldn’t be at the Stampede Showdown tournament.

The Kainai players heading to the tournament are between eight and 15-years-old. Soop says the CBOA’s stance is unfair to the young people involved.

“I understand if you have a dispute with one individual and you want to ban one individual. But to ban an entire native community and also to not allow young native kids to play basketball in Calgary is disgusting,” he said.

Tournament organizers are now working to find alternative referees to work games involving the four Kainai teams and the tournament’s director said the CBOA also demanded extra security for all games.

The tournament, with 58 teams from all over western Canada, starts on Thursday.