Samantha Tsihiband from Carrington Primary School drives to the basket at the City-Wide Tournament
On Saturday morning, the Umlazi Township, just south of Durban, was the last place anyone wanted to be. Protests stemming from a political dispute had turned into complete chaos. Violent mobs set fire to trains, vandalized property, blocked roads with burning tires, and hurled rocks and other projectiles through the air at passing cars, people, and police. Amidst the anarchy, the playful shouts of children could be heard barrelling down the road – 132 children to be exact. They were aboard two buses heading into Durban to attend a basketball tournament, leaving the troubles at home behind for a day full of fun, friendship, and a chance to just be kids.
Teams were mixed so participants played with kids from other communities
Yes, City-Wide is back! The bi-annual basketball tournament hosted by PPI – SA took an unexpected hiatus last year, but returned in triumphant fashion this past Saturday, March 16th, at Hoy Park in Durban. 425 primary school kids (212 boys and 213 girls) from all over Durban and surrounding regions boarded buses with teammates Saturday morning to make the trek to the city. For many kids, the tournament provided a rare opportunity to spend a day outside of their home communities. For others, like the players from Umlazi, the chance to get out was even more welcomed.
Once everyone (children from 23 different schools in 6 different communities) had arrived at Hoy Park,, the festivities began. A few songs, dances, and speeches later, players were mixed and split into teams so that each team had representatives from each community. This gave players the chance to interact and team up with people they otherwise would never have the chance to meet. Kids from the country, kids from the city, kids from predominately African townships, kids from a predominately Coloured township, and kids from Waterloo, which isn’t near any of those places, all teamed up on Saturday to compete on one of 7 basketball courts at the venue. Teams that weren’t on the court kept busy by participating in a life skills activity where they had to guide a blindfolded teammate through an obstacle course using only their voice. During breaks, kids spread out on the grass to enjoy lunch and snacks with new friends and old.
Many new friendships were formed and old ones were strengthened
After nearly 5 hours of activity, everyone gathered together for an awards ceremony. The most coveted award of the day was the “Champion of Peace” award, given to the boy and girl on each court who best embodied the spirit of sportsmanship, hard work, and camaraderie. The winners of the “Champion of Peace” awards deserve a special mention in this post. They are listed at the bottom.
Also deserving special mention are all the volunteers who donated their time and effort to the tournament. This includes members of the United States Consulate, who provided funding for the tournament and lent a helping hand all day long.
Participants show off their certificates.
At the end of the day, the kids headed back to the buses, many with awards, prizes, and certificates they had earned throughout the day, and nearly all with bright colors smearing their lips after devouring a well-deserved popsicle on their way out. The remains of the popsicle would wash off shortly, but the memories from the day, all the fun times and new friendships, will stick around for a long time. Let the countdown to the next City-Wide begin!
2013 PPI-SA City-Wide Tournament Champions of Peace
Siyabonga Dube Asanda Mkhize
Nhlanhla Mvhunu Sara Bash
Sanelele Hlophe Amanda Mabaso
Aphiwe Mbele Hlengiwe Majozi
Lindo Ngcongwane Anele Mdluli
Luyanda Mzinhle Owethu Dlamini
Minenhle Mhlongo Isabelle Makwanda