This weekend, PeacePlayers International-Northern Ireland hosted its annual Jingle Ball tournament at Lisburn Racquets Club just outside of Belfast. Over the past 3 years, the tournament has doubled in size, from just 12 teams and around 100 participants in 2012, to 21 teams and over 200 participants 4 days ago in 2015. The numbers speak for themselves, but the atmosphere this event created can’t be put into words. As always the basketball, dancing, and teamwork were fantastic, but there was something else in the air that day. It was hard to identify, but here are a few guesses!
Maybe it was the 21 Junior Champions for Peace, many of whom were playing in the matches, but also leading the cheers, chants and of course the cha-cha slide..
Maybe it was the 18 Senior Champions for Peace, who were not only hosting a group of peers from County Clare in a cross-border leadership development initiative, (Belfast and Clare M8s4Change) but also helped with refereeing, worked the scorers tables, played for the Senior Boys and Girls teams of their side of the city, and coached some of the Junior teams.
Maybe it was the 20 volunteers from Google down in Dublin, who not only lent their time, energy and enthusiasm, but also helped raise over €1,500 to sponsor the event and continue the legacy that former PPI-NI legend Tony McGaharan began upon his arrival with the company. A huge thank you to all those who were such a big part in the days success!
Maybe it was the over 25 coaches whose passion for sport for development has allowed all the participants to experience a space where they can learn and grow together.
Or maybe, just maybe, it was the kids! The kids who have chosen to challenge the social norm of division and segregation. The kids who chose to not identify someone by their religion or where they live, but on the content of their character (or whether they support the same NBA team!) The kids who make all of us here at PPI-NI so proud to be just a small part in their development, as we watch them grow into the next generation of leaders in Northern Ireland.
It was probably a combination of a few different things, but as with anything, “the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts”, and that synergy has never been more evident, than in that gym this past weekend. Thank you to ALL of you who made it happen.
The link above sums it all up! Happy Holidays from all of us at PPI-NI!!!