PeacePlayers South Africa’s City-Wide Tournament has been a premier event in Durban for decades. This year, the 34th City Wide Tournament took place on Saturday, 18 June 2022, from 7am – 4pm with 500+ participants, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The event felt like a nostalgic reunion for most of the kids, staff, volunteers, alumni, and various stakeholders. However, for others who had never felt the energy of a City-Wide Tournament (CWT), it was a refreshing and unifying experience.
Coordinating logistics, support, and vendors needed for the event’s success is a familiar feeling for PP-SA’s planning team. A day before the event and after plans were set in place, the coaching staff met at Hoy Park to do a walk-through, sort kits, and arrange sanitizers and medals. As Area Coordinators facilitated their walk-through, collaboration was emphasized for the team to have a successful City-Wide Tournament event. A staff braai followed this preparation session at Blue Lagoon beach.
Participants woke up as early as 4am on the event day to meet their teammates at a taxi or bus stop. PeacePlayers hires 4 buses and 5 taxis to transport participants; transportation is the organization’s most expensive programming cost. Youth hailed from areas in and around Durban – Pietermaritzburg, Durban North, Umlazi, Wentworth, Lamontville, Clermont, Bluff, Molweni, and Durban City. These communities in one setting presents a diverse group of participants that thrived at a Gender Equity & Social Cohesion-themed City-Wide Tournament.
The 48 Primary School and High School Programme teams were sorted and paired into mixed-gendered teams of participants from different communities to promote the day’s theme. Once the central horn sounded off, signifying a central clock, the CWT feeling was restored to its former glory. City Wide Tournament once again filled the void of participants being in one location competing with each other and expanding their comfort zone by introducing themselves to peers from other communities.
Coaches, Leadership Development Programme participants, and their parents were the stars of the day. Everyone was there to support and be hands-on with refereeing, coaching, table officiating and ensuring that food was distributed efficiently. One Leadership Development Programme participant from Pietermaritzburg, Olwami Zungu, brought shoes for participants in need. When asked why he did it? Olwami says his first CWT in 2019 motivated him: “I saw young kids playing with passion and happiness, and not necessarily feeling the need to complain while actually appreciating what they have. It moved something in me.” (more to come on this story)
The participants, the recipients of all the hard work, had an exciting day. Bazamile Primary School from Molweni never played in a City-Wide Tournament before nor in a Cross Community PeaceLeague game outside their township. Although there were loads of competitive games, a close semi-final game on Court 3 ended in a tie game in regulation, leading to a 2 versus 2 free throw contest with one boy and girl per team.
After the championship game, team awards and individual awards were handed out. The Primary School Champions, Team Apples, was led by an Umlazi-City duo of Darsi Niyonkuru and Bayanda Khulise. The High School Champions, the Boston Celtics, were led by Collin Igboegwu.
A “PeacePlayers Spirit” award and a “PeacePlayers Way” award were also earned by a few young stars. The PeacePlayers Spirit award was earned by two participants who encouraged their teammates, displayed leadership, kept their energy high, were socially immersed by meeting new friends and exemplified our core values throughout the day. The PeacePlayers Way Most Valuable Player (MVP) award was earned by two players who led their team on the basketball court throughout the day.
Lucy Mensah, who has experienced the High School Programme the last few years, was appreciative of the award and the role basketball has played in her life through PeacePlayers:
When the day concluded, ten-year alumnus Sheldon Francis reflected. He says, “The first time my team played, we lost terribly, but they [kids] had fun playing the next two matches, won, and forgot about the first loss. After the 3rd game, they were so happy. They even went to cheer on a team who beat us before. My team said, ‘those guys are from our court, so we want to support them in the championship.'”
CWT has been restored to its original state thanks to all the hard work behind the scenes and the participants who came eager to play, meet new people, and enjoy the game we love. See you in November for our 35th City-Wide Tournament, where we will celebrate 20 years of PeacePlayers existence!
Berea Mail (link)