This week’s blog is written by PPI-NI international fellow, Leif Frymire.
Whether you’re from Northern Ireland, the U.S. of A., or any of our other international sites; there’s one thing you come to understand about the PeacePlayers – Northern Ireland site, we love our acronyms here! There’s C4P, CDP, BIL, BIL+, BDP, and BIG. While I would love to describe in detail every single one of those programmes, I only have the time to focus on just one of those acronyms; B.I.G. or the Belfast Interface Games.
What are the Belfast Interface Games, you ask? Well, here’s our official description,
the Belfast Interface Games, which follows the Game of Three Halves Model, brings children and young people from different backgrounds together to explore culture and identity through participating in three sports from Northern Ireland’s rich sporting heritage; football, rugby and gaelic football. The young people play on integrated teams and rotate through coaching stations, led by coaches from each of the three sports as well as a fourth station of interactive community relation’s conversations led by PeacePlayers facilitators.
As many may – or may not – know, sport in Northern Ireland is quite divisive and can be sectarian. Over the course of three days, the B.I.G. camps provide boys and girls from the different areas of Belfast an opportunity to learn about a sport that may come from a different tradition within the community. For many, it will be the first – or only – time they get to learn and play in this sport.
As with all PeacePlayer programming, in addition to the sport, we provide a safe space to have challenging conversations relating to sectarianism, racism, stereotypes and prejudice. Because the teams are integrated, children and young people are able to have these discussions with their peers from a different background and are thusly exposed to a different perspective than their own.
Many of you may have already known all that. What many of you may not know is BIG is actually a continuation of our Belfast Interface League (BIL) programme. The BIG camps build on the work, the relationships and all the fun that was had during the school year while learning basketball. BIG camps provide an opportunity for our participants to get together over the summer, reconnect, learn about new and different sports, and continue to build those positive cross-community relationships.
After the three days, the four sides of Belfast come together for a city-wide tournament. This event allows the integrated teams from east, north, south and west to all come together, apply their new found skills in the three sports and compete against each other. It’s a great way to celebrate all the work the kids put in at the camps, allows the kids to reconnect with friends from the other sides of the City while also bringing them together to show that PeacePlayers is bigger than just their side of the City.