This week, Coach James talks about PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland’s (PPI-NI) ‘Junior Belfast Interface League‘ (Jr. B.I.L.) and why this year’s Summer Jam tournament will be our best yet.
This year’s Summer Jam tournament kicks off with…no, not the blow of a whistle, but 12 weeks of basketball practice and team-building for children from all over the city of Belfast. We are about to move into the second half of the programme, with only a few weeks left before the tournament on the 31st of May.
The Jr. B.I.L. programme is held in each area of Belfast – north, south, east and west – and the teams are made up of children from different communities within those areas. With the programme extending to 12 weeks this year, the teams have more time to practice their basketball skills while also developing friendships, not only on the children’s teams, but with teams from other areas.
Over the 12 week curriculum, the children will cover topics about how to work well within teams in addition to material developed by the Arbinger Institute about being ‘in the box’ and ‘out of the box’. A person who is ‘in the box’ will think and act negatively towards others while someone who is ‘out of the box’ is associated with positivity and respect. Over the duration of the Jr. B.I.L. program, PPI-NI aims to have a ‘box-free’ Summer Jam tournament where everyone on the day is able to recognize that competition is a form of positive conflict and that PeacePlayers International itself is one big team!
It’s great to see first-hand the effects that the program is having on the participants in showing the ‘PPI Way’. On the east Belfast program, the boys had just come on to the court after a community relations session where they talked about working well as a team. Putting this into practice however, seemed to be more difficult as after a few minutes the match had descended into a huge argument over who had possession of the basketball. Ben Rainey, a 13 year old, had had enough. Walking over to the scene, he took the basketball and gave it to the opposing squad, saying to everyone:
‘If we can all just work as a team, everyone can get better together and win Summer Jam. If we keep fighting, we’ll just end up losing on the day and show everyone we can’t work as a team, which isn’t fair because we can. Now lets stop arguing and play some basketball!’.
With over 200 participants in the programme and team-mates like this, Summer Jam is shaping up to be an incredibly competitive, but team-orientated experience.