When I joined PeacePlayers as Managing Director in 2009, I asked then Director of Operations with PPI Andrew Gordon for his top tips for success in this job. He said, “keep as connected as possible to the work on the ground – don’t get caught up in a suit back in the office.” Whilst the suit was never going to be an issue for me, finding the time to get out into the field has been a little more challenging. As Andrew advised, however, taking the time to get to know our programs first-hand through coaching at sessions has been and continues to be extremely rewarding on both a personal and professional level.
This semester, I have been lucky enough to coach at one of PPI-NI’s Lurgan twinnings. Uniquely, this twinning involves the pairing of two controlled primary schools, which are typically attended by young people from Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist backgrounds. However, due to the location of Lurgan Model, its students are from predominantly Catholic/Nationalist/Republican backgrounds.
It’s session four this week, and my team, the ‘Awesome Athletes’, will be playing and competing alongside Coach Shannon’s ‘Zombies’, Coach Mairead’s ‘Team Dynamite’, and Coach Declan’s ‘Disco Dudes’. Following two really impressive school visits and presentations in sessions two and three (see video link below), I’m really looking forward to this week’s session which will take place at the Jethro Centre. The theme for the session is ‘identity,’ so in addition to untangling their human knots, learning BEEF and proper shooting form and dribbling techniques, participants will explore those aspects of their lives that help make them unique. Roll on Wednesday, sweet to the beat!