On Saturday, May 26th, PeacePlayers International – South Africa (PPI-SA) hosted its 22nd semi-annual City-Wide Tournament for over 800 participants from the primary school program! This year, The Brooklyn Nets, a United States based professional basketball club in the National Basketball Association, was recognized at the tournament for their investment in PeacePlayers.
PPI-SA runs year-round programs for 35 primary schools targeting grade 6 and 7 learners from racially and culturally divided communities in and around Durban. At the end of each semester, PPI-SA hosts a basketball extravaganza where all of these participants come together to learn and have fun in a safe environment.
A key focus of the first of two City-Wide Tournaments of the year is that players are regrouped to form new teams consisting of players from different schools and communities. This process allows for the integration between players from different communities and schools, facilitating the most important goal of PPI, promoting peace among different groups and creating friendships.
It was a beautiful day for the tournament, and the excitement mounted as taxis arrived full of energetic, anxious participants. As soon as they arrived, each participant was greeted with a gift pack consisting of a t-shirt, cap, water bottle and straw kindly donated by SASOL, a South African-based fuel company. After receiving their gifts, participants were entertained by Thobani Khumalo, PPI-SA life skills coordinator, through his rhyming beats and educational song “I’m a PeacePlayer.”
“We want to thank the Brooklyn Nets for their global support of PPI programmes,” said Managing Director Marcel van der Heever. “We also extend our sincerest gratitude to Sasol for their many years of support and for helping us make the City-Wide Tournament such a memorable event through their kind donation of matching T-shirts, caps and water bottles for all the kids.”
To start off activities, all participants took part in a team building session to get more comfortable and interact with their new teammates. Teams then competed in basketball games, with each team playing four matches on their respective courts.
In addition to the basketball and fun, Zoë-Life, a partner of PPI-SA, hosted free Voluntary Counseling Testing (VCT) services for HIV/AIDS for anyone older than 16 years of age. This was a first for the City-Wide Tournament, and added unparalleled value to the tournament. PPI-SA bases its life-skills curriculum largely around HIV/AIDS education and awareness, and the presence of Zoë-Life created a supportive and encouraging platform for people to get tested and know their status.
Another highlight of the day was the integration of our Leadership Development Program participants into the City-Wide. Over 40 LDP high school participants came and volunteered as coaches and mentors to their younger counterparts. Many of the LDP participants were a part of the City-Wide as 6th and 7th graders, so it was a special experience for them to now be role models. The champions of LDP for the 1st semester, Molweni, were also awarded their trophy in front of the entire tournament during the closing ceremonies.
On behalf of PPI-SA, we would like to thank everyone, especially its staff, for making the event a huge success and a special day for all.