This week’s blog was written by YAV Volunteer, Leif Frymire. As Leif’s year of service comes to an end, he recaps his work this summer and his experience at PPI-NI. Leif’s positive energy and #LeifLessons will definitely be missed here at PPI-NI
With the end of my time in Belfast coming to a close, I thought I would give you some juicy details on what I have been doing this past month.
Basketball Camp – July 4th-6th
The first week of July, PeacePlayers-NI held a basketball camp for PeacePlayers participants. I got to coach my own team of rambunctious 9-11 year olds. Our team name, Lehman Lightening.
The camp was 3 days in which the kids learn and improve on fundamental basketball skills like rebounding, defense, dribbling, passing, and how to apply all those skills into games. There were individual skill competitions, and team competitions. After the 3 days Lehman Lightening, made it to the final game. We had played our opponents before. The series was 1-1. It was an intense, emotional game in which the referring was questionable, the level of play immense, and everything the kids had learned over the 3 days applied to the highest level that saw Lehman Lightening come out on top with a score of 12-11!
It was an incredibly proud moment for me. Not just to see my team win, but to see the difference in play from day 1 to day 3. It was night and day. This was not exclusive to my own team either. All the teams exhibited an improved understanding of Basketball that showed on the court. Passing, dribbling, shooting, and defense all were improved.
I was also proud of the fact that I could feel how I had grown over the course of those 3 days. Managing a team of 6 9-11 year olds for 4-5 hours really tested my patience, my energy, and how I approach dealing with youth. At times finding the line between having fun, but also taking things seriously to improve skills was challenging. Whether I learned anything will have to be determined the next time I work with a group of kids!
BIG Camps – July 19th – 30th
A few weeks later, I worked in different parts of the city coaching at PPI-NI’s Belfast Interface Games. The first week in West, the second in South. Each camp lasted 3 days and incorporate PPI-NI’s legendary game of 3 halves. The kids (and some of us coaches) learned how to play sports in Northern Ireland that are generally associated with each tradition, Gaelic Football, Rugby, and Football (soccer). This is important because it allows kids from different backgrounds to learn about a sport that would most likely be associated with the “others.” In addition to the sports, each day the kids learn more about Community Relations via sports. That means learning about perceptions by seeing Professional Athletes in civilian clothing, learning about the history of the sports they are learning to play, and identifying how we stereotype the different sports.
Coach Joe takes the South and West Belfast teams through an activity on Perceptions
After many sports sessions, days of rain, days of sun – and many Pokemons caught later – these sports camps culminated on a Friday evening where all sides of the city: North, South, East, and West, came together to compete in the different against each other.
It was incredible to watch all the different teams playing the different sports. Each team having challenges with certain sports. Each team excelling at certain sports. All having fun.
Game Over – For Now!
That flagship event on Friday night was the end of my time serving with PeacePlayers. The skills I have gained in working with them in the office and in the field have been invaluable. The people I worked with were incredible and will hold a lasting impression on me. Seeing the work they do is truly inspiring and has definitely influenced the way I see division and how to resolve conflict. I am truly grateful to have been placed with them.