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!

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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.

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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 (www.facebook.com/peaceplayersni) where we will be sharing live videos. We will also be updating our Instagram stories via the global PeacePlayers handle @peaceplayersintl

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 — (facebook.com/PeacePlayersNI) 

PPI-Northern Ireland represents itself as a “linked in” organisation at #BelfastHour!

PeacePlayers International-Northern Ireland intern Shawna Walsh shares her experience of the #BelfastHour networking event she attended last Sunday at the Odyssey arena. 

Belfast Giants

Belfast Giants

Twitter is no longer just for following celebrities and daily musings of each others’ lives. It has proven itself to be a very effective tool bringing small businesses, charities and organizations together on a platform to share ideas, events and successes with one another. Every Thursday night from 21:00-22:00, #BelfastHour is a host to over 350 businesses in Northern Ireland looking to network, learn and share and of course, practice our social media skills! Almost every week #BelfastHour trends in the top four in the United Kingdom.

While the Belfast Giants were battling for a win, the #belfasthour crew was deep in networking!

While the Belfast Giants were battling for a win, the #belfasthour crew was deep in networking!

This past Sunday, PPI-NI social media queen Nasiphi Khafu was lucky enough to be invited to #BelfastHour’s first in-person networking event hosted by the Belfast Giants – Northern Ireland’s local ice hockey team. Mingling with some of Belfast’s most connected organisations was a great way to promote the work we do with others who value our vision. Since we spend most of our time on the basketball court and in schools, #BelfastHour is a great opportunity to take a step back, or shall I say into, technology to learn about what other like-minded organisations are doing and share how people can get involved with our programs. As Edward Norton said, “Instead of telling the world what you’re eating for breakfast, you can use social networking to do something that’s meaningful.” Don’t be social media shy, it’s the wave of the future!

If you wish to explore more about this online platform, all you have to do is use the hashtag #belfastour which will lead you to all our discussions taking place in the twitter universe. According to NI Business Now, over four and a half million timelines have been hit to date! Talk about reaching thousands of people through simple word-of-mouth. Imagine how many people we could get excited about basketball, bridging divides developing leaders and changing perceptions.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @peaceplayers, tagging #PPI_NI, on Instagram @peaceplayersintl, and of course Facebook PeacePlayers International- Northern Ireland!