By Charles Gladden
BELIZE CITY, Mon. May 9, 2022
On Saturday, May 7, the Sprite Live Life Basketball Tournament resumed in Belize City, and it is being seen as a way to draw teens in high-crime areas of the city away from criminal activity, while imparting life skills to them.
The goal of the organizers of the mini-tournament is to bring youths who reside in the feuding areas within the city together in an activity that will enable them to bond through their shared love of basketball.
Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Kareem Musa, believes that through initiatives such as the Live Life Basketball Tournament gang rivalries can be subdued.
“I think that what has been missing from the crime conversation for a while. We look at crime as a police issue only, and I think that is where we’ve been making a mistake for all these decades, and it really should be more inclusive. We should have more stakeholders at the table, and we have done that through the Leadership Intervention Unit, but it’s not through sporting programs or social programs or education. We have to create opportunities for these young men, and so that is what this entire multi-sectoral approach is about,” said Minister Musa.
Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams also sees the basketball tournament as a form of conflict resolution to end the gang rivalries.
“You can’t compare this to a state of emergency. You spoke about them being in conflict and not having enough conflict resolution. Don’t you think that having these rivaling groups on a basketball court, playing against their rival group isn’t some kind of effective conflict resolution? It’s a way for them to come together and see how they could understand each other and see, you know what, we might have a difference in the circumstance in terms of where we live and the color we support, we have many things in common that we can focus on. Here we are on the basketball court together and we’re coexisting,” noted COMPOL Williams.
A total of 140 participants from 15 teams based in Belize City, Ladyville and Hattieville have been participating in the mini-tournament.