PPI - NI's Community Centre League brings together children from throughout Belfast.
PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland has many great programs: one of the most successful of these has been our Community Centre League (CCL). This program is designed for young people ages 11-15 and allows for participants from community centers across Belfast to spend Wednesday nights ballin’ it up with PeacePlayers International, both on the court and in guided community relations sessions.
Joanne (center) spoke to Michaela to learn more about what it's like to participate in the CCL.
CCL has recently finished what was a very successful semester, highlighted by great improvements in both the skills and the attitudes of our participants. Our older players demonstrated fantastic leadership skills with some of our newer members – in some cases, even adopting a ‘mini-me.’ Veteran players like Michaela, Nicole, and Lauren truly mentored rookies like Amy-Lee, Kasie and Johna. The older girls provided guidance during community relations discussions and made sure the younger girls were included in all aspects of the basketball training sessions.
To celebrate the completion of CCL, Whiterock Community Centre hosted a party for all of the programme participants. Music was supplied by our own DJ Kyla, buns were decorated by chefs Lauren and Shannon, and balloons were burst by all the boys. Participants were each presented with a certificate of CCL completion and a pair of basketball shorts; the top three teams received a limited edition PeacePlayers jersey donated by Scotty’s Sport Shop of Wellington, Florida (via the Aunt and Uncle of PeacePlayers International Fellow Meghan Houlihan).
Michaela writes a goodbye message on the shirt of another CCL participant, Amy-Lee.
Joanne Fitzpatrick, PPI – NI’s Coach Training and Engagement Coordinator, sought to highlight some of the positive experiences of CCL through the eyes of a programme participant. She asked Michaela, a local fifteen-year-old and avid participant of CCL, to describe her experience during the ten-week programme:
Joanne Fitzpatrick: Tell us, Michaela, exactly how long have you been involved in CCL?
Michaela: Four years now.
JF: How did you get involved with PeacePlayers and CCL?
Michaela: My Uncle Sean told me about it and asked me if I wanted to go; I thought I’d give it a go.
JF: How would you describe your experiences with CCL?
Michaela: It’s amazing, to be perfectly honest. We all get a bus together to the school, doing warm-ups first and then getting together with our teams. Then, we play a few matches and do some community relations.
JF: What’s been your favourite discussion in community relations this term?
Michaela: “The one about the peace walls. I didn’t know much about them, even though I see them all the time- it was really interesting. We learnt where they were, how many there are and how they are separating people from each other.”
JF: What’s been your favourite moment with PeacePlayers so far?
Michaela: Two things: 1) Getting into the finals of Spring Jam; and 2.)Having my team coming in first place in CCL.
JF: How do you want to remain a part of PeacePlayers in the future?
Michaela: I want to play more basketball, attend the Leadership Development Programme’s residentials and I really want to become a PeacePlayers coach, too.
A huge thank you to everyone involved in CCL this term, including community leaders Lorraine, Sean, Gerard, Topper, Sally, Roseanne, Helen, Tommy, and Tina. Thank you to Belfast Bus Company for the transportation of the programme participants, Artimas for renting us a location, and to Ashfield Girls High School and Girls Model High School for providing a safe space to host CCL. To our coaches – Shaun, Kirsty, William, Dean, Laura, Shannon, Meghan, Will, Ellen and Darryl: none of this could have happened without you- thank you! We look forward to seeing all of you next term!
Want to learn more about CCL? Watch this video, with interviews from participants Lauren and Justin: