As the basketball season wraps up here in Northern Ireland, Project Coordinator Joanne Fitzpatrick talks to 3 key members of the U14 girls team; player Eimear Ward from South West Belfast, assistant coach Aimee ‘AJ’ McMinn from North Belfast and coach Michaela Thompson from West Belfast.
Joanne: Tell us how you got involved in basketball?
AJ: I got involved with basketball when I was around 9-10 when PeacePlayers came in and signed us up for the Monster Mash Tournament and I’ve been playing ever since.
Eimear: I was 9 when a basketball coach first came to my school. When PeacePlayers came in at the start of primary seven, I began to really enjoy basketball and knew that I wanted to keep playing after I left primary school.
Michaela: I got involved in basketball back when I was 11/12. My uncle Sean has a youth club and he brought me along with them to PeacePlayers Community Centre League and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Joanne: What do you think makes the team different to other PeacePlayers programmes?
AJ: I think the fact that it’s an actual team that plays in the league. It’s more serious than the likes of Jingle Ball, but it’s still as fun as the other PeacePlayers programmes.
Eimear: With most of the programmes there is a balance between community relations and basketball, with the team it is solely based on basketball.
Michaela: The team runs on longer than most PeacePlayers programmes which helps the girls become closer as a team and, as they call themselves, a family.
Joanne: What have you gained this year from being involved in the team?
AJ: I have gained a lot of friendships from all over Belfast, with people who I wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for the team. I have been given the chance at assistant coaching this has given me the feel of what it’s like to be a coach for basketball, which I would like to do when I am older.
Eimear: This year from the team I believe that I have improved a lot of my basketball skills and in particular my dribbling. I have also enhanced my teamwork skills which are beneficial in all aspects of PeacePlayers.
Michaela: I have gained a lot more basketball knowledge and I have just loved being a part of this team watching the girls progress every single week.
Joanne: What are your goals for the team next year?
AJ: My goals for the team would be to have the assistant coach opportunity again, to teach others the skills I know and to bridge divides using basketball.
Eimear: I hope to continue to improve my basketball and teamwork skills.
Michaela: My goals for the team next year would be to come up with new drills for the girls, have a bigger team and to make them run a lot more 🙂