Tourney Time for the PeacePlayers-NI U-12 Boys!

This week’s blog was written by Ryan McGarry, Local Fellow at PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland

This Saturday sees the first of the year’s U12 Blitz Tournaments held by PeacePlayers NI.The U12 Boys team have been training almost every Saturday alongside some of our older participants in our Saturday Rec League program.

It has been great to watch this group grow and develop their skills, most coming from a background where PeacePlayers was their first experience in basketball. In spite of this, we have started to see many of our participants becoming even more comfortable on the court!


What I love about people playing with that ‘natural’ style of someone who is constantly training – is that you can observe their desire to keep getting better. That first time someone makes a reverse lay-up, they turn around with a massive smile, before going back and shooting 100 more.

A key theme that myself, Jazz and Sally have been reminding everyone of every week; is not to let mistakes or missed shots get the better of you. Every time someone makes a mistake in training, they get a little bit better at what they just attempted. This is easy for me to say now (when I was 12- 15 I was the one huffing in the corner after missing an easy shot) But I feel like our Rec Leaguers’ get it more than I did!

In regards more specifically to the U12s, it has been an interesting experience for me in coaching them. I come from a background of high intensity competition – anything I lacked in skill, I made up for with work effort. Playing on traditional sports teams and experiencing the highs and lows that come with it.

This U12 team is different in so many ways to my past experience. Not in that the boys aren’t competitive, it’s just that, the idea of winning being the ultimate goal is not one that we ascribe to. It took me a while to look past the relaxed approach that most of our team has, at first I thought they were just turning up to hang out with their friends that they didn’t get to see during the week. Over time, however, I realized that these boys loved playing basketball, loved improving and winning just as much as I did when I was that age, it’s just that they don’t want that ‘win’ to come at the expense of enjoying themselves, and playing because they want to play, not because they have to.


I’ve come to appreciate this outlook and it in turn, has shaped the way I coach the boys. To be honest it’s made me enjoy coaching on Saturday mornings far more!

This tournament on Saturday will be the second in which the PPI U12 boys have played in. We haven’t had the most match experience – but we’re not letting that affect us. We’re maybe not the team that goes in and blows everyone away by twenty or thirty points – but we’ll go out and play as a team, have a great time, and I know every mistake we make will keep us on that path of improvement.

(The blitz is on from 10:00am – 2PM GMT. Feel free to tune into our PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland Facebook Page ( where we will be sharing live videos. We will also be updating our Instagram stories via the global PeacePlayers handle @peaceplayersintl

Belfast Phoenix Basketball Club – “My Friends And a Group I Will Forever Remember”

Last September, a group of 15 girls from all over Belfast came together to form the 2016-17 U-16 girls Belfast Phoenix basketball team. With many of the girls being part of Belfast Phoenix BC for several years, having two new coaches was maybe a daunting thought, never mind having 6 new teammates. The newest members to the team were six PeacePlayers participants who have been part of the Belfast Interface League for more than 3 years. Ready to take the next step, they joined Belfast Phoenix BC in the Basketball Northern Ireland competitive league.

PeacePlayers coaches Joanne Fitzpatrick and Hannah Byrne, worked with the girls throughout the season to end up with a 8-2 record, at the top of the league. But this blog isn’t about scores or stats, Xs or Os, cups or trophies. This week’s blog is about a team, how they formed, stormed, normed and performed together. This week’s blog is written by local coordinator, Joanne Fitzpatrick, with a little help from the team.

When I started coaching these girls last year, I didn’t know what to expect. As someone who has only ever coached in PeacePlayers for the past 9 years, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be what these girls needed. I was a bag of nerves, thinking that these girls needed a coach with more competitive coaching experience. I walked into the gym and introduced myself to the team. Within seconds, Brooklyn O’Hare, PeacePlayers participant and new Belfast Phoenix member, broke the ice by giving the girls my nickname- JimmiJo11. At that moment, Brooklyn reminded me of something I like to teach all our kids, “Just be yourself.”Throughout the year, I’ve watched these girls go on an amazing journey. I’ve asked some of them and their parents to give you their story of the season.

How would you describe the PeacePlayers and Phoenix girls coming together?

“When the PeacePlayers girls all joined the team, I was nervous about what they would all be like, but after I got to know them a bit I love them and I really like playing with them.” – Cassie Taylor

“The girls that came originally from Phoenix are amazing ballers and I was intimidated by this at the start. But, it just helped me improve my skills more and made me a better player…We are a group of girls that are playing basketball and having fun. While playing, never once did I think about if they were Catholic, Protestant or anything else. It didn’t matter and still doesn’t, they are my friends and a group I will forever remember.” – Patrice Fox

“I was quite skeptical at the start when I found out we were joining with the PeacePlayer girls because I didn’t know who they were but it didn’t take long for us all to get along” – Brid Turley

“At first it was a bit awkward, but the girls were super nice. It was nice to meet new people in a great atmosphere that they created” – Anna Duncan

“When I joined Phoenix, I was nervous. So from being in PeacePlayers for a long time, it taught me just to be myself , to accept others and not to change in order to get people to like me.” – Brooklyn O’Hare

“Having all the PeacePlayers join the team has been great honestly, they’re all so nice and very friendly and they’re very easy to get along with. They’re all very inclusive and they are also very hard working and determined and of course they encouraged me to join PeacePlayers myself.” – Sara Mostafa

“At first, I was slightly nervous as I didn’t know if they would mix well together or just stay in separate groups, but after our first game against Dungannon it was clear how much the PeacePlayers girls added to the team and I know they would get along really well.” – Hannah Byrne


Brooklyn O’Hare with an easy lay-up on a fast break

What was the highlight of the season for you and why?

“The highlight of the season for me was our first game against Andytown Tigers. Even though we lost, none of the girls gave up at all and it was the most intense game of the season!” – Hannah Byrne

“For me, the highlight of the season has to be winning the league especially as it was with a bunch of girls who didn’t really know each other at the start but bonded very quickly.” – Brid Turley

“The highlight for me was when we won our game against the Tigers, I think that we worked really hard and definitely deserved the win” – Sara Mostafa

“The highlight of the season has been playing with others in a league setting and building better friendships with those outside of PeacePlayers.” – Brooklyn O’Hare

“The highlight of the season for me was training with the team because I was very nervous coming to U16 alone, but now I feel quite comfortable” – Ayushma Kandel


Cassie Taylor leading the team as point guard

What do you think PeacePlayers has brought to the team? Are PeacePlayers coaches different to other basketball coaches you’ve had?

I didn’t know about PeacePlayers until the girls told me about it and encouraged me to join. Jingle Ball was my first event and I love it. The matches weren’t too competitive and there was music, everyone was dancing, it was just a great vibe.” – Ayushma Kandel

“Having a coach from PeacePlayers is different, other coaches I’ve had were about how to make great players, but PeacePlayers coaches make sure that we all got along well as a team too, which I think is really important” – Sara Mostafa

“Having a coach from PeacePlayers is different because although we all like to win, I think that PeacePlayers focuses more on being a team than just winning. A normal coach would focus on the result and not the progress that the team are making. A PeacePlayers coach would be more interesting in how the team works and that its ok to make mistakes.” – Cassie Taylor

“I think there is definitely a better team bond because of the PeacePlayers influence. I also feel like we can have a bit more fun, not take ourselves too seriously and I think that’s been great for the Phoenix girls to have that influence in their club basketball” – Hannah Byrne


Sara Mostafa easing past the defence

A note from Jolene Fox. Parent of Patrice, PeacePlayers participant and Phoenix BC player.

“PeacePlayers started with basketball being fun, something to do, a way to meet new people and explore life (especially living within a divided society) in a way that sees beyond daily prejudices be it religion, race or socio-economic background. While I don’t feel that Patrice would have had a great prejudice on these issues but, societal normalcy in regards, especially, to religious differences in Northern Ireland may have had an impact. Through working within the West Belfast PeacePlayers team and in the city-wide teams and events and Champions4Peace programme, Patrice has had a platform to see other young people as just that, young people. There is no Catholic/Protestant, black/white, rich/poor, she has friends. They’ve learned lessons on the importance of inclusion and how isolating excluding or simply not including people can be. PeacePlayers has made the journey to playing basketball competitively a smooth transition. There is no requirement to know her friends religions etc, she is only concerned about how well they pick up the different plays and if they’re working well as a team. Some of them are even taller than her, that’s about the height (pardon the pun) of her noticing differences within her Phoenix teammates.  Since Christmas, it is very evident that she has forged new friendships and has grown within herself exponentially. Patrice is more comfortable giving her opinion on things, she is willing to put herself forward and take a more assertive role when carrying out tasks. She has become more competitive, especially over the past fortnight and I’m sure that will continue over the coming month in the build up to the All-Irelands.”

Coaches Conclusion

I’ve had the most amazing experience coaching these girls. I’ve learned more than I could ever imagine. I’ve watched them play, in awe, every game, getting stronger as a team. Many of these girls are right, I did focus on them becoming a team and it took a while. But to see these girls win the league with heart, soul, and compassion for their teammates and the game of basketball, is the best reward I could ever receive. I’m prouder than ever of what they’ve achieved together and I can’t wait to see them wrap up this year in the All-Ireland play-offs next month. Onwards and upwards, rise the Phoenix!


Belfast Phoenix U16 2016-17, a group I will forever remember

Introducing: The Together: Building a United Community Reunion in NI!

This week’s blog is written by Jazz Bishop, International Fellow at PPI-Northern Ireland.

Last Saturday, 4th March, over 40 PeacePlayers participants gathered together for the Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) Camp Reunion. This event highlighted youth summer camps sponsored by Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM). The purpose of the summer camps were to contribute to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united shared society. From an African drumming session to a Bollywood dance workshop, the event truly celebrated diversity in Northern Ireland.


Florence from (South Belfast)  Patrice & Anna (from West Belfast) pose for a picture with PPI-DC participant during South Belfast BIG Camp last summer!

To give you a quick recap – T:BUC funded our Camp Beta where we had our first ever monitoring & evaluation training with our participants and our first ever youth-led evaluation thereafter. Our BIG Camps also known as the Game of 3 Halves (GO3H) where governing bodies coaches from the International Football Association (IFA) Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), and Ulster Rugby spent three days with our participants sharing the culture of the 3 traditional sports in Northern Ireland.  The fourth half in the camp, participants took part in activities and discussed community relations topics such as prejudice and diversity in Nothern Ireland.The camp culminated with a Flagship night which brought together PeacePlayers participants alongside our participants from the PPI-DC Leadership Development Programme in their integrated teams from all sides of the city to compete

OK Fast forward to Sataurday! ——>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The Reunion Event was filled with fun and games for everyone.  We started the morning listening to participants from all of the different T:BUC camps as they were interviewed about their experiences at the camps.  Maud Tinsley and AJ Mcminn from our Senior Champions4Peace programme represented PeacePlayers and shared with everyone what it was like to be a Champion4Peace. They both represented PeacePlayers very well as they spoke in front of the large audience.

After the interviews and welcome speeches, we broke out into three different groups so that we could split up the day. In the first session, we were in the “Discover Zone”, which consisted of a lot of sports activities such as Rugby, GAA (Gaelic Sports), disability sport NI.  I tried Hurling during this session.  I was never very good at softball-type sports so I was even given a smaller stick thinking it would help me to hit the ball better.  It didn’t help.  One of the participants, Sam Keery told me how he had the privilege of meeting a professional Rugby player.  That seemed to be the highlight of his day. I was happy to see the pleasure it brought him to meeting the Rugby player.  Sam was extremely excited.  It seemed to have made the day complete for him.


Me attempting some Hurling.

After the “Discover Zone,” we moved on to the “Live Zone.”In this session, there were Chinese dragon lion head martial arts, dance and a Bollywood dance workshop. Of the Live Zone activities, everyone seemed to have enjoyed the Bollywood dance workshop the most.  Some PeacePlayers participants even dressed in traditional Bollywood clothing. One of our participants, Gary Duffy volunteered to get on stage with the instructors. I was a little surprised that Gary did this because Gary is normally very shy and reserved.   It was great to see him having a blast dancing up there.  It demonstrated to me how much his confidence has grown just in the short time period that I have been involved with PPI.  Great job Gary! Yes, I too, even took part in some of the dancing.  I figured if I can get up there, a girl with absolutely no rhythm what so ever, then it would encourage all other participants to get up and join in on the fun as well.   Everyone had a blast!

In the last station, we got to partake in what was called the “Active Zone”. In this zone, there were quite a few team building activities that included some inflatable games and a farm/petting zoo. I was going to attempt some of the inflatable games but I think all of the kids had the same idea and the lines were extremely long so I stepped back since the day was for the kids after all. However, I was able to go out and pet some of the animals that they had. There was a llama, some goats, sheep, rabbits, and even a wallaby. The wallaby was very cool to see.  At first, everyone thought it was a baby kangaroo, but the handler corrected us.

All in all, the day was a great fun for everyone involved. The kids appeared to be
having a blast all day long, which was great to see. I’m glad I was part of it as all well.  It truly was a wonderful event.  Being able to see the smiles on all of the participants’ faces was amazing and made the day complete for me.


PeacePlayers T:BUC Camp Group

Thank you to T:BUC for putting on such a great event! If you missed our Instagram Stories on the day off, we have included a compilation video below. Be sure to follow our Instagram handle @PeacePlayersIntl and LIKE our Facebook Page — ( 

Coaching for Outcomes – Enhancing Local Capacity in Northern Ireland!

This blog was written by PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland’s International Fellow, Sally Nnamani.

Many moons ago, during my onobarding training before moving to Belfast to start my fellowship, I met with Gunnar Hagstrom, (PPI Chief Program Officer) and when I asked him what were the key needs at PPI-Northern Ireland, he answered “developing local capacity.” This week was all about investing in our local talent. We delivered trainings with coaches, teachers, and principals from Belfast, Armagh, Ballymena, Magherafelt, and Lurgan.

We kicked off the week with a full day of teambuilding/training with our Belfast coaches. The training introduced our brand new Belfast Interface League Curriculum which integrates “Beyond the Court”(life skills-focused)  “Sharing the Court”(community relations-focused) “On the court” (basketball-focused) activities and outcomes.  With this newly revamped curriculum, we know our participants will be excited to take part in absorb fresh content all while reinforcing previous learning.

Our coaches teambuilding day in Belfast was centered around building positive culture in our twinnings and the idea of a purpose-driven coach. We dug into why we coach, what do we want the young people we are coaching to get out of the time spent with us, and what we will do to make sure we reach our outcomes.  Our coaches and staff truly embodied the positive culture that we want to bring to our day in and day out to participants in our twinning programme. We ended the day with some hoops and a lovely dinner together!


St Oliver Plunkett & Derryhale teachers working on twinning session plan

On Wednesday, Debbie (our Operations Leader here in NI) and I spent the day in Armagh, a town about 45 minutes from Belfast where we delivered a training for a group of teachers and principals from St Oliver Plunkett and Derryhale Schools. The idea behind the partnership is to train the teachers who will then organise and deliver a twinning programme involving  P4, P5, P6, and P7 kids from their schools. The schools are planning on putting together another joint bid for a twinning next year.

Today, Joanne (our Project Coordinator) spent the day in Lurgan with our coaching staff there. The training reiterated positive culture and also covered facilitation techniques for delivering twinning games.


Susan (Teacher at Derryhale) & Jimmy (Principal at St Oliver Plunketts) working on shooting form!

We have really stepped up our game in the capacity-building front. Our Champions4Peace participants are even involved. They were trained last August and led our first ever youth evaluation. Earlier this year, Emma Gibson on the PPI-NI board and Fundraising professional led a fundraising training workshop for the C4P’s.  They are currently working on teams to develop a fundraising idea and put it into action. Joanne and I also led a series of social action workshops at the start of the year for our Lead4Peace participants. Our aim was to support our young leaders to leverage their experiences from the international exchanges to impact their communities locally. The Lead4Peace participants are currently working on teams to raise awareness around homelessness in Belfast and young people affected by mental health.

We’ve received lots of positive feedback from the additional trainings and what makes the trainings and support we give our participants, coaches, and other stakeholders particularly unique is the “experiential learning” activities immersed throughout the training content. This approach has helped our coaches feel more comfortable and confident because it allows our trainees to experience the PPI way and culture before coaching in an actual PPI programme.

PPI-NI C4P Gary Duffy Talks About His #Lead4Peace Experience in Norway!

Hello! My name is Gary Duffy, I am 15 years old, I live in Northern Ireland and I’m here to tell you about my time in Norway as part of the PeacePlayers Champions4Peace Lead4Peace exchange. It’s a long but savoury ready so sit back and enjoy! 


Me and my new friends from the Middle East Malak and Liraz

Leading up to the trip, I had all sorts of butterflies, nerves, and excitement all at the same time. I wondered what the people would be like, would they like me and would I fit in. The next six days turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had with PeacePlayers.

The first day we arrived to Norway, I was so excited as we waited for the Middle East group to arrive. It was exciting for me as I was going to meet new friends from different parts of the world. Once the Middle East arrived, the participants from the previous exchange all met up and said hello, giving each other hugs. I had to make myself known and introduced myself. We then got on the bus to go to our host families homes and that was when I met the first person on the exchange and that person was Yuval from the Middle East. When we started talking, Yuval had told me about his first time playing Gaelic football in the Middle East exchange last October. We had a laugh on the bus and was amazing getting to know him. On our journey to our host families, we had a party on the bus or what we came to call a PeacePlayers ride.  We were blasting music, introducing ourselves and chatting with all the new people we had yet to meet.


The NI Squad at the airport waiting for the Middle East group to arrive!

After about an hour on the bus, we arrived to Nesodden and I finally got to meet Edvard who I had been chatting with before the trip and I was so excited to finally get to meet him and it was amazing. Me and Eoin (Lead4Peace participant from NI) were driven up to our host families house where we were introduced to Edvard’s family.

On the first day of the camp, I didn’t get to meet many new people. So my goal was to not sit with people I knew so I can begin to make new friends and to get myself known to everyone on the exchange. Edvard’s dad dropped us off at Nesodden High School. This was where we met the coaches from the other sites – Gøril, Roar, Jamie, Nicos, Ståle, Sissel, Latoya, Bahar, and Sean. The coaches introduced themselves and shared something interesting about themselves, they were all a laugh and I knew I was going to get on well with them.

After all the introductions, we were split up into our teams. This was when I met my teammates – Thilde, Jinan, Christain, Martin, Gur, Serife, Ayanda, Anne, & Beth and Anna. We called ourselves Team Fire Ball to match our team colour, red!  Later that day after we all played basketball, it was time to lead our session on Trust & Communication. I wasn’t as confident at the start but when I saw Beth and Anna do an amazing job, I said to myself it can’t be that bad and went on and led my activity and I did a good job.


Beth, me, & Anna leading our session on Trust & Communication

After that session, it was time for dinner and that’s where I finally got to talk to the new people. That night was my favourite night in Norway because I made everyone laugh and made myself more recognised by everyone. Later that night, Edvard and William set up a Norwegian food taster for me, Eoin, Max, Tahir from Cyprus & Ryan.  We all sat at the table and began tasting Norwegian food which was amazing and very tasty. The third day was the day we all went to the hotel and did the fun in the snow the first activity we all did was ice hockey.

The third day, we headed off to Sormarka which was about an hour drive from where we staying in Nesodden. The first activity my team did was ice hocky, it was an amazing experience and I enjoyed it so much even though I got warm pretty fast becaue of all the


Lovin’ life on the snowboard!

layers I was wearing. Our next activity was snowboarding and just having fun in the snow. This was the first time I ever went on the snowboard and I fell many times. But nonetheless, I still had an amazing time. After all the fun in the snow, we went to a little area and had hotdogs for lunch. Later on that day, we continued with our classroom sessions on social action led by the Cyprus coaches.

That morning I woke up and got my heavy clothing on and brought my bags down to the hotel reception as we were all going back to our host families in Nesodden. This was the day we all went dog sledding and it such an amazing experience. I’ve never seen such peaceful dogs before, the dogs were just so adorable and they were the cutest dogs I’ve seen my life.  Later on that day, we took the ferry boat back to Nesodden, the boat was the best transport for me as I love boats.

We arrived in Nesodden and we watched a match. Edvard and William play for the Nesodden club and they had a game that night. We also helped with making waffles which we gave out to the fans. Me, Jinan, Brooklyn, Malak, and Nagham all made the waffles and they were amazing. The basketball game was so intense and it was very exciting to experience. Unfortunately, Edvard’s team lost that game but it was a fun match to watch.

After the match, we were split into two teams and played basketball until we had to go home. The next day was all about school visits! I got to coach in two basketball sessions which was amazing, I had such a laugh with all the kids. After coaching I got to do a classroom session with 15-16 year olds  where I shared how I was introduced to PeacePlayers, I also told them about the conflict in Northen Ireland. I was so nervous at first but when it came to it, I did a pretty good job and I was proud of myself.

After all that was done, me, Edvard, Eoin Thetha, Nitzan, Nagham and Maria all walked home to Edvard’s. We had free time so we decided to rest and get our energy back up. After the rest, we all got our gear and headed to the ferry. We got to the ferry and met up with everyone else. The ferry is so cool, I was in love with it. We got to our destination and had to get a bus to Kolbotn where we played more basketball.  We got a lot of basketball time and was a lot of fun. When our matches were over we all had a big game of knockout and the winner was Ryan who’s also from Northern Ireland. After all that we all went home. The last day for us all to be together which struck me but

The next day was last day for us all to be together which struck me but I made the best of that time and made such great memories. So, the first thing we did was get on the ferry. After the ferry, we all met up and did a bit of sightseeing around Norway and the view was so pretty. We all went to the parliament where we had a member of Parliament talk to us about Norwegian politics and the king of Norway. It was so interesting and fun to learn about.  After the Parliament, we took the underground (subway) to visit the Vigeland Sculpture Park. This was also where me and coach Joanne recreated the heel kick photo and we all had such fun. We then visited the Nobel Peace Centre where we had a lovely tour of the 2017 exhibition.


Coach Joane and me heel kicking!

We came back to Nesodden and played in a 3 on 3 tournament. My team made it to the finals but we lost. After the tournament, we all went into the lunch hall and had our final time together. I was sitting down with everyone getting food before the awards were given out. After dinner, the awards were presented and I won the Spirit Award. The Spirit award is given to someone who takes part in everything with a positive attitude while cheering everyone else on. I was so proud to be gifted that award. After the awards were given out, I completely broke down as this was the final time I’d be with everyone before saying goodbye. I went around hugging everyone and spending my final hour with everyone but we didn’t let that bother us as we all had a ball. We were all singing and dancing even the coaches joined in!



So you might ask what has this exchange done for me, it has made me more confident in leading sessions an16807022_1200989770022113_942240450499203875_nd in being a coach. It has made me a better leader, I made new friends and it might have even made me famous! I was featured in the in the local paper! And what I am looking forward to the most is seeing everyone again when they visit Northern Ireland in July!


Training the Trainers: PPI-NI Ballymena

This week’s blog was written by Ryan McGarry, Local Fellow at PeacePlayers International-Northern Ireland. 

bmenaThis year was the first time I became involved in a PeacePlayers Twinning that took place outside of Belfast. I was tasked to take the lead on our programming in Ballymena, a town about 30 minutes outside the city (famous for being the birthplace of Liam Neeson!), within which we have been running Twinnings for 4 years. Having established ourselves here working in conjunction with the Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, we have recently began taking steps to further develop our work in the area. Specifically, we are aiming to train and increase the capacity of locally based coaches, to transition our work there to becoming completely locally-led. (As much as I love my weekly pilgrimage up there!)

This approach fits into part of our overarching plan, which is to create and develop local PeacePlayers sites in every council area in the country. Recently, a partnership with the Ballymena Northern Regional College enabled us to take initial steps in this direction. This partnership has given young to volunteer as assistant coaches at our weekly sessions in the area.



Local student Paige leads a discussion on ‘Respect’

While this has only begun in January, these students have already shown their coaching abilities, and their willingness to develop themselves further. While jumping into a coaching role isn’t easy (especially in a high energy environment like a PPI Twinning!) The assistant coaches have been great at quickly adapting to our particular style of coaching, and leading activities not only in Basketball, but also in our Community Relations curriculum.

This has been evident not just to myself and the other PeacePlayers coaches, but also to their own teachers, and also to staff from the participating schools. They impressed the latter so much so that a few of the assistant coaches have been invited to the schools to help out in other ways, and meet back up with their team members!


Coaches Paige & Rebecca pose with their team’s completed ‘Respect Wall’

With the potential to bring some of these prospective coaches to our coaches’ trainings throughout the year – we could be seeing the establishment of a very important foundation for PPI’s planned expansion into the six ‘Super Councils’ of Northern Ireland.

If our efforts to create and develop a bank of local coaches in Ballymena is successful, it could well be used as a template for our work in other areas, and with a great group of potential future PeacePlayers at our disposal, I feel personally responsible to ensure that this becomes a reality!


“AJ Says…” My Work Experience Story

This week’s blog was written by AJ McMinn, Senior C4P participant and Assistant Coach at PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland 

Hello my name is AJ, I am a Senior Champion4 Peace, BIL Assistant Coach in North BIL and a participant in the PPI-NI BIL+ programme.  This week, I completed my work experience with PeacePlayers which is a short-term internship where a student few days to gain experience within the work place.


Speaking about my experience as a Youth Evaluator at the PeacePlayers Camp Beta Celebration last week in Stormont (Northern Ireland Assembly)

On my first day, I met with Sally and Jazz at the office and headed to Queens PEC (the sports hall) t0 coach in my first ever Super Twinning between Springhill Primary School and John Paul II Primary School from East Belfast! At Queens PEC, I met with the other coaches and went over the plans for the day and I was paired with Gareth (PPI-NI Managing Director) to help him with his team. As both the schools came into the hall, you could instantly feel the high energy and I knew it was going to be a great twinning!

Throughout the day whilst we rotated around the stations, I got to know the participants better and better and it was great to look around to see everyone laughing and enjoying themselves.  I really enjoyed coaching the participants! After lunch, it was time for the matches and this is what all the participants were looking forward to. It was great to see everyone working as a team and sticking to the theme of the twinning which was “Sportsmanship.” Once the matches ended, it was the award ceremony time! The team that was the most “sportsman-like” at the end of the day were awarded t-shirts. I enjoyed my first day of coaching alongside all the other coaches and getting to know all the participants and I looked forward to my second day!


Me and my best friend, Emma!

During my second day, I arrived at the office at 9am and met with Sally. Sally then briefed me on what my day at the office would consist of and we talked over the Champion4Peace Strategy Plan. I then met with Jazz and we discussed our Senior C4P Curriculum and how we can integrate more trainings and life skills-focused themes into our monthly meetings.

After the meeting with Jazz, I developed a session plan on public speaking as well as a model session plan for when we host young people from partner organisations. I enjoyed writing these sessions plans, it also gave me better insight to what goes into our sessions and how long they take to plan. I then looked at different grant opportunities for Senior C4P which will allow us to be able to do more within PPI. My day in the office was a lot of fun as I was able to see all aspects of being a PeacePlayers coach!

On my final day, I again met with Sally along with coaches, James and Liam. We took a trip to Magherafelt which is about 45 minutes outside of Belfast for a twinning between Magherafelt Primary School and Holy Family Primary School. When we arrived at the school, we went over our plan for the day before the participants arrived. The participants instantly began to bond with one another and I led a short energiser called, “Find a New Seat If…” The participants seemed to enjoy the energiser and I really enjoyed leading this activity. I was then paired with Liam and helped him with his team. We came up with a team name and cheer and after some silly, yet funny names, we decied to call ourselves “The McDabberz.”  The twinning was great, I enjoyed spending my morning with both the schools and enjoyed watching them all bond in such a short space of time some of them even hugged each other goodbye!

Overall, I really enjoyed my work experience. I wish it was longer than 3 days as I really enjoyed the PeacePlayer coaching experience! I would like to thank PeacePlayers Northern Ireland for taking me on my work experience and would like to have the opportunity again in the future.