October was a special month for PPI-SA, as we dedicated the month to our “Champions for Peace”. Our “Champions for Peace” are participants who demonstrated a superior level of commitment, passion, and skill throughout the year. They are also carrying a positive attitude, being a good teammate, and demonstrating an eagerness to learn and share. In short, our “Champions for Peace” are the players who we feel are most ready to blossom into the next generation of young leaders, coaches, and basketball ambassadors in their communities.
Throughout the month of October, selected participants came together from different schools to practice twice per week with the other “Champions for Peace” from their community. That all culminated in a big tournament on October 31st involving the “Champions for Peace” teams from each community: City, Umlazi, Lamontville, and Wentworth. Each community fielded both a boys and a girls team.
One of the main highlights of the event for the kids was simply earning the opportunity to travel out of their communities to play in a different place against new people. The venue, Umlazi Indoor Sportscentre, has the only indoor wood-floor basketball courts in the entire region. For most participants, it was their first time playing basketball indoors, let alone on a nice wood court.
The games were action-packed, including a couple of dramatic buzzer beaters and overtimes. Mixed into the game schedule were a few additional activities which encouraged players to work together with players from other teams and areas. These activities saw players teaming up to follow orders from the “captain” aboard a “pirate ship”, and pairs literally putting their heads together to race down the court while balancing a basketball between their foreheads. The collaboration between kids from different communities was an inspiring sight to behold, especially when trial and error led to discussion and eventual perfection.
Players also had a classroom session between games that encouraged them to think about their ideal future and learn, discuss, and share how to navigate potential obstacles, make good decisions, and utilize support systems to help them reach that future they are envisioning.
At the end of the day, Umlazi took home the boys trophy after winning all three of their games. On the girls’ side, City swept away the competition to earn the girls trophy.
Congratulations to all of our Champions for Peace for putting in a month of hard work, and representing their schools and communities well at the tournament. We would also like to give a BIG thank you to all of the volunteers who turned out on the day to help make this event possible.