This week’s blog is written by Jazz Bishop, International Fellow at PPI-Northern Ireland.
Happy New Year to everyone from Northern Ireland!
PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland wrapped up 2016 with its Inaugural PeacePlayers Boxing Day Plunge on Monday, December 26th in Newcastle. PPI-NI staff, friends, and family took the plunge into the Irish Sea. Everyone jumped in with their sneakers on, except me because I didn’t have a spare pair with me. I jumped in with my socks on and ended up losing my socks in the Irish Sea. The water was extremely cold, but it was a great deal of fun for everyone.
The fundraising goal was set for 500 pounds. With online and cash contributions combined we were able to reach our goal! That’s impressive considering this was the inaugural year. Thank you to everyone who took the plunge, to all of the sponsors and to all of the donors that helped us to raise the funds to help support PeacePlayers.
Kicking off 2017, we have started organizing our Super Twinnings. Basically, Super Twinnings are like a big celebration tournament. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the great things accomplished by our P6 class in their twinning sessions that the just completed and a perfect way to lead into the P7 class as the will soon begin their sessions. I have two of them scheduled in February. All of the PeacePlayers International–Northern Ireland staff will help coach at all of the Super Twinnings. Team Work makes the Dream Work!
We had our first Super Twinning session on Friday, January 13th. There were eight integrated teams total participating, four teams from each class. As you might already know, the twinning programme involves two schools (Catholic & Protestant) and when I first arrived to Belfast, I had the joy of coaching alongside Coach Joane and Michaela in the North Belfast Twinning with Garrs Glenn Primary and Our Lady Queen of Peace Primary. This was part of my onboarding and I truly enjoyed working with and getting to know these young children. All of the participants were great and the Super Twinnings ran quite smoothly as well. All of the participants on my team were really amused that I was from America. They said that they liked me because of my accent and that they wanted to come to America too.
Good Sportsmanship was the theme of the day. Winners were not determined in the conventional way by the team with the most points. Instead, the winners were determined based on points earned by being a “good sport” throughout the day. Participants were giving a Good Sportsmanship checklist and at the end of a match, they were to grade themselves based on how well they think they performed as a good sport. I have had many coaches throughout my career for several sports, not just basketball, and most all of those coaches would rather have a Good Sportsmanship Banner hanging from the rafters in the gymnasium than a championship banner. I would have to agree with that.
Because we ran into some time constraints with schools needing to get the students back to the school and the venue availability time, some of the stations were finished rather quickly. However, all of the youth seemed to be enjoying themselves and were having a great time. Most importantly, they truly understood and demonstrated the true meaning of Good Sportsmanship. I was very proud to be part of such a great event.
In closing, I would like to thank Debbie Byrne, PPI-NI Operations Team Leader for opening up her home to Sally and I, and inviting us to share Christmas dinner with her and her family. The food was excellent! She has a beautiful family. They were all wonderful and treated me like one of their own. I enjoyed meeting and getting to know them all. Best of all, she made me feel right at home. I learned that our families are very similar even though they are half a world apart. After dinner at Debbie’s house, we enjoyed playing a game together. It reminded me of Christmas at home because we always have dinner and then we play family games together as well. So thank you for sharing your home and your family with me. This meant a lot to me.