Young people from different religious backgrounds came together for a virtual tournament on Saturday 30 May 2020, hosted and developed by PeacePlayers NI, who are core funded by the Community Relations Council (CRC).
PeacePlayers NI uses basketball as a tool to connect children and young people from divided communities.
When social distancing guidance and self-isolation guidelines came into effect, PeacePlayers adapted their normal delivery method to include online interactions between young people.
Using a virtual setting maintained an importance visual connection between friends from different areas and backgrounds.
For 10 weeks, PeacePlayers has been conducting its virtual Cross-Community Leagues (CCL) to great success – averaging 85 young people per week.
I really enjoy the way even though we are so far apart physically, we are all together for an hour mentally, and it just feels like we are at Stranmillis having the same fun and we all bring the juice.
The challenge has been adapting the basketball portion of the session into something that can be done virtually. Condensing a 2-hour session that is typically done in a sports hall into a session from home led to the creation of a unique and dynamic experience.
The conversations PeacePlayers has been able to facilitate virtually are still just as inspiring as they would be face-to-face.
PeacePlayers adapted their normal delivery method to include online interactions between young people using Zoom sessions and Facebook Live broadcasts.
Normally, a real-world basketball tournament would average 200 people. PeacePlayers’ virtual tournament hosted 115 people via Zoom sessions throughout the afternoon with many more tuning into the Facebook Live broadcasts. People watched from the United States, Cyprus, South Africa, and many more locations.
Gareth Harper, Managing Director, PeacePlayers NI witnessed how their “Living Room Olypmics” brought young people together.
“Right in front of me at one time were over 60 different Northern Ireland households,” Gareth said. “In every frame there were smiling faces, young and old, as participants were joined by their parents. At that moment, with the images of entire households competing in virtual games and the sound of infectious laughter emanating from the speaker on my computer I felt so privileged to be part of a team and organisation that during these challenging times could bring the spirit of PeacePlayers into our participants' living rooms.”
PeacePlayers NI uses basketball as a tool to connect children and young people from divided communities. By competing together on integrated teams and participating in PeacePlayers’ community relations and team-building activities, children from these historically divided communities can discover common ground, forge new friendships and break down barriers.