I arrived in South Africa two weeks ago as a volunteer for PeacePlayers South Africa for one year. Basketball has always been a big passion of mine, I started to play it when I was a little boy, so I was super excited to be a part of an organization that uses my favorite sport as a tool for social development. I have to say that my expectations have been exceeded thus far. To bridge social divides and develop future leaders with the help of sport and especially with basketball is an amazing idea. Besides that, every day I experience how phenomenal the PeacePlayers family feeling is and I’m just honored to be a part of it!
Last week we had an honor to host our local PeacePlayers Friendship Games, powered by Ed and Penelope Peskowitz at UKZN Old Mutual Sports Centre, these games took place in every location in the month of July and August and we were the last location to host this huge event. Over 170 under 16 high school boys and and girls and 60 youth mentor coaches from Durban and KZN areas participated in this two day overnight event and it was a powerful and inspiring experience for everyone.
On Saturday morning August 24th, the focus was on stations that either improved basketball skills, promoted team building or leadership and team cohesion. In addition to the stations, the youth participants and coaches played a continuous 5-on-5 tournament in the afternoon and after participants stayed overnight in the Onomo Hotel.
On Sunday we had to get up very early because there was so much more waiting for us. PeacePlayers South Africa launched the Girls Basketball Festival three years ago to commemorate Women’s Month in South Africa, celebrate and empower young women through sport. This years Girls Basketball Festival was included in the second day of our Friendship Games. The final game of the festival was between Westville Girls High School and LIV Village School. The entire game was thrilling and came down to the last seconds. The Westville Girls triumphed as the winners of the 2019 Girls Basketball Festival.
Previously, only girls competed in full games while the boys cheered them on, assisted as referees and officials. However, this year we introduced a boys three-point shooting contest at halftime so they could be involved in the event. Each of the girls team had about eight boys assigned to their team throughout the day. While the boys weren’t competing in the shooting contest they were more than excited to support the girls.
In addition to South Africa, the PeacePlayers regional Friendship Games took place locally in the United States, Middle East, Northern Island, and Cyprus. We are overwhelmed with the feedback we’ve received and can’t wait for a successful turnout in the Middle East next year at the Global Friendship Games and in the United States in 2021. PeacePlayers South Africa has relaunched the Leadership Development Programme, selecting 30 participants, and 20 of these of these participants will get an opportunity to attend the PeacePlayers Global Friendship Games next year where they’ll meet peers from all across all PeacePlayers global sites. They are in for a life changing experience!
Special thanks to our speakers Lona Benya CEO of MaBenya Sports Consultants and Maimoona Salim the KZN Provincial Executive of Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator for dedicating their time and sharing powerful words with our youth about the importance of self-identity and self-branding.
Finally, I want to say that the slogan “children who play together can learn to live together” has never been more appropriate. As I said, I’m truly blessed to be a part of PeacePlayers and global unifying events like this are a huge inspiration. #PeacePlayersSAUnite
Special thanks to Ed and Penelope Peskowitz for the investment made to PeacePlayers through the #FriendshipGames and thank you to Nike Global Community Impact for donating 200 sports bras #MadeToPlay!