Basketball Northern Ireland Embracing Basketball For Good
21/05/2024
Foundation
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Basketball Northern Ireland Embracing Basketball For Good

BELFAST (Northern Ireland) - Basketball truly has the power to empower, educate and inspire youth around the globe — and an initiative out of Northern Ireland is proving that.

The FIBA Foundation continues to successfully operate its Propose a Project platform and has worked closely with the basketball community in Northern Ireland to empower, educate and inspire.

Propose a Project's objective has been to continuously bolster the Basketball For Good community by assisting projects that use basketball as a tool for positive change in their respective societies. Once projects are approved, FIBA provides financial, equipment, and/or mentoring support to these communities, along with additional opportunities for exchange and mentoring.

Chief among FIBA’s strategic priorities has been empowering National Federations around the world. This includes Propose a Project, plus FIBA PLUS programs, Mini Basketball initiatives and more.

Since 1955 in Northern Ireland, Basketball NI has served to promote and deliver the sport of basketball and physical recreation throughout the nation. The organization is volunteer-run and consists of 20 club members in Northern Ireland. Basketball NI is the FIBA-recognized National Governing Body of Basketball for the country.

In 2023, Basketball NI was granted support for their Propose a Project initiative, called “Basketball NI Basketball for Good." This project falls under the “Basketball for Peace & Conflict Resolution” focus in the FIBA Foundation’s goals.

“I had always been aware of the great work the FIBA Foundation was doing in communities across the globe,” said Marc Mulholland, Vice Chair for Basketball NI. “I was lucky enough to be presented with a Basketball for Good FIBA Foundation ball during my Time Out 2.0 graduation from the FIBA Foundation.

“During the Time Out Program, I always seen how we as a basketball community can use the great skills we have within the sport and help others with that skillset. I was able to learn more about the mission of the FIBA Foundation ‘Basketball for Good’ programs and how they can help make an impact in countries across the world. I have always been an advocate for using basketball as a tool to help build relations and coming from Northern Ireland I felt this would be a great opportunity to apply for some support from the FIBA Foundation in an aim to help grow the sport here and more importantly have a positive impact on our communities here in Northern Ireland.”

The project focused on specific municipalities of need within Northern Ireland, including Belfast, Derry, Mid-Ulster, Magherafelt and Newry. Basketball NI noted that Belfast has been rife with crime, and their goal was to provide basketball programming to these communities, thus lending much-needed structure to participants.

“In our ‘She Got Game – Empowering Women in Basketball,’ we were able to work with over 180 women across Northern Ireland with 80% of these women being entirely new to the sport of basketball,” Mulholland said. “The aim was to have a safe and shared space for women who wanted to learn the game of basketball, build healthy habits for both physical and mental wellbeing, and break down social barriers through good relations in our communities.

“With our program, we worked with over 1,200 young people with a 50/50 gender split using basketball as a vehicle to promote good relations and mental wellbeing from over 20 geographical locations across Northern Ireland.”

The FIBA Foundation provided Basketball NI with 50 basketballs to kickstart their project, which included after-school basketball, good relations workshops and summer camps. Basketball NI also launched “Welcome Basketball” in Mid Ulster for newcomers and “Social Basketball in South Belfast, which focused on women and migrant family groups.

Basketball NI noted that, in launching this initiative, participants would learn through basketball to question current attitudes about identity and increase cultural awareness, thus helping to create acceptance towards others.

“For young people, this will mean learning to respect others despite differences in background and beliefs,” organizers wrote in their proposal. “This will act to reaffirm cross-community friendships by bringing different communities together in shared spaces and interacting together though basketball and fun games. Summer basketball camps will be cross-community in nature and will bring young people together at times when interface tensions are typically heightened, leaving young people more exposed to experiencing sectarian activity.”

2023 also marked the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Peace agreement, and the organization stresses that basketball has served as a positive vehicle to continue building on the strong institutions of peace, justice, inclusivity, and equality.

“For our young people programs, we continue to build on the legacy of our grassroots Basketball For Good program that we will target another 30 groups of young people, from different locations of Northern Ireland, delivering basketball, good relations and mental well-being support along the way,” Mulholland said. “We will also have another summer 3x3 experience for young participants to come and try the sport of basketball and build friendships through good relations.”

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The FIBA Foundation is the social and legacy arm of FIBA that addresses the role of sports and particularly basketball in society, preserving and promoting basketball’s values and its cultural heritage.

The FIBA Foundation believes that basketball has the power to empower, educate and inspire youth and facilitates this by implementing Basketball For Good projects around the world.