This week Project Coordinator Joanne Fitzpatrick looks back at the highlights from the past weekend’s Spring Jam 2012 tournament
Spring Jam 2012 was something of an emotional rollercoaster for many on Saturday 2nd June, as we celebrated the end of our programming year with a great basketball tournament whilst simultaneously saying goodbye to beloved staff members Tony McGaharan, Meghan Houlihan, Rory O’Neil and intern Garry Longfield.
The warm-up team of International Fellow Rory O’Neil and Project Coordinators Darryl Petticrew and Joanne Fitzpatrick opened the day by leading the collection of players and volunteers in the Cha Cha Slide, the Electric Slide and, no PPI-NI tournament would be complete without, the Party Rock Anthem (AKA the shuffle).
Spring Jam seen many a strong bonds built through the various activities on the day. Each team played six basketball matches, participated in two team-building games and even squeezed in a game of basketball jeopardy. In my four and a half years at PeacePlayers, this being my 11th tournament, I’ve never seen a more impressive sight than looking across the sports hall in Stranmillis College to see hundreds of high fives between teammates. To the untrained eye, they looked like the oldest of friends, but many of these boys and girls only met eachother for the first time when they put their team shirt on.
Spring Jam is all about embracing the three components of PeacePlayers; bridging divides, developing leaders and changing perceptions. Each team was mixture of participants from primary schools and community centres all over Co. Antrim, giving the kids the opportunity to not only meet a new teammate from “the other side” of an interface, but also from the other side of the county.
The day, of course, wouldn’t happen without the help of our volunteers. Many of our volunteers this year were made up of participants from our Advanced Leadership Programme (ALP), one of which managed to lead her team to the finals and win.
Each year four participants are rewarded for being a great team-mate, showing respect and sportsmanship, playing hard and never giving up. These awards are called the Spirit and Hustle awards, winners are presented with a trophy and, this year, a Brooklyn Nets cap.
The competition was fierce, the smiles were huge and the slap of the high fives could be heard throughout the building, in my eyes this was the best tournament I’ve been to during my time at PeacePlayers.
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