Today’s blog is written by PPI-NI International Fellow Casey Tryon, who gives us a recap of a basketball camp that PeacePlayers ran last week in Belfast:
Last week, PeacePlayers International-Northern Ireland held its second annual basketball camp at Grosvenor Leisure Centre in Belfast. More than 40 children from all corners of Belfast gathered together to improve their basketball skills and see friends they had made during other PeacePlayers programmes.
During the three-day camp, children took part in skills stations, matches, and some friendly competitions. Even though camp started at 10 a.m. every morning, the children couldn’t wait to get into the gym; several campers showed up at 9:30 a.m. to shoot around. Each morning Coach Joe took the campers through a warm up, and then they spent time working their way through different stations where they practiced shooting, passing, rebounding, dribbling and other fundamentals. Each day after lunch, campers had a chance to show off their skills in a variety of different shooting competitions both as individuals and in pairs, although the most exciting competition was Friday when the juniors beat the seniors in a shootout to be first in line for pizza!
On Wednesday, the campers were split into teams, teams that they would represent for the duration of camp. On Friday afternoon, we held the two finals matches. The Seahawks came out victorious in the NCAA (junior) division and the Spurs were champions of the NBA (senior) division.
Having worked with several of these children over the last two years, it’s exciting to see the friendships that have developed, not just with children from certain areas of the city, but with children from across all areas of Belfast. The children have not only become friends, but have also developed a love for the game of basketball. This bond over basketball has helped these friendships blossom. Children often come in with new basketballs, new basketball sneakers or stories about the basketball hoop they just got at their house. Parents and teachers are also making it a point to tell our PPI-NI coaches how much their children enjoy playing basketball. In some schools, basketball has even replaced soccer as the game of choice at recess and break time!
Friday afternoon, I hung out with a few of the campers after camp ended and asked them how we could improve camp for next year. The overwhelming response was to make camp longer! A huge thank you to coaches Hannah, Aidan, Nicole, Conor and Ryan for volunteering their time to help make camp a success. Also, a big thanks to Grosvenor Leisure Centre for all your help. We hope to see everyone back again next year for Year Three!