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May 9, 2022

SPRITE Live Life Basketball Tournament, an Intervention for Rivaling Gangs

The Ministry of Home Affairs, in partnership with Sprite, officially opened its SPRITE Live Life Basketball Youth Tournament 2022, on Saturday. The competition is seeing participation from fifteen teams across the Belize District. These are teams made up of young men who are prone to become victims of the gang warfare that plagues their communities. But, on the basketball court a different kind of rivalry is playing out; a healthy competition. And, it is the hope of organizers that this healthy rivalry will help to resolve many of the tensions these young athletes may have with each other in the streets. News Five’s Paul Lopez reports.


William Dawson

William Dawson, Chairman, Leadership Intervention Unit

“What I call a great initiative. We have to thank the Commissioner of Police and his team for bringing about this basketball tournament. I love the name of the tournament, Live Life.”


Paul Lopez, Reporting

The SPRITE Live Life Basketball Youth Tournament 2022 began on Saturday, with fifteen participating teams from across the Belize District. The teams competing against each other are feuding groups whose encounter in any other circumstance could quickly become violent.


Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“This basketball tournament is a part of our intervention with our youths on the streets doing intervention through sports. So, for those persons who sit on a fence or in a water tank or confined between rocks and not see what is being done, not just from the police stand point, but from the Cabinet standpoint, to address the issue of crime and violence in this country, I would say to them, please come out, look at what we are doing, be a part of it, and not just sit in your water tank and criticize.” 


Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Minster of Home Affairs and News Growth Industry

“For your fans to be able to traverse and go into another community that is supposedly rival gangs. To sit down in the stands with those other fans and realize, we don’t really have any differences among each other. There is no real purpose behind any killing that is happening. And I know that yes when they kill a family member that hurts deeply and you carry that with you, and you see that person again and it is still there. I know how much that can upset you.”


According to the Commissioner of Police, the tournament presents an opportunity for players from rival groups to develop healthy conflict resolution skills.


Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“Don’t you think that having these rival groups on a basketball court playing against other rival groups that that is some form of effective conflict resolution? it is a way for them to come together and try to understand each other, to say you know what, even though you might have differences in circumstances where we live or the color we support, we have many things in common we can focus on. Here we are on the basketball court together and we are co-existing.”


Each team was given individual jerseys and a basketball. The largest sponsor, Sprite, says it is glad that the tournament has returned after a hiatus caused by COVID-19 pandemic.


Vanessa Bowman

Vanessa Bowman, Brand Coordinator, Bowen and Bowen Ltd.

“It is exciting to see so many of our city youths eager to return to the basketball court for some healthy competition. And, it is not only about winning. Players will draw on their team work skills, build confidence as they compete, and practice good sportsmanship.”


Day one of the tournament ended with several teams showing dominance on the scoreboard. The competition will run through the next six months. It will run simultaneously with a national tournament. Following the competition of the tournaments, winning teams from each district will face each other.


Kareem Musa, Minster of Home Affairs and News Growth Industry

“We look at crime as a police issue only and that is where I think we have been making a mistake for all these decades. 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 is not just through sporting programs, or social programs, or education. We have to create opportunities for these young men. So, that is what this entire multi-sectoral approach is about. Bringing all these people together who realize that crime is not a policing issue. Yet fighting crime, and arresting and prosecuting, that is the job of the police and judiciary, but at the same time there is root causes of crime we need to address.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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