The fourth annual Eastern Division Youth Basketball Cup, which is the brainchild of the Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, kicked off today with an opening ceremony held at the Yarborough Green Basketball Court. The tournament, which lasts for 6 months, will involve 14 teams this year. Love News spoke to the ComPol as he told us his vision for the tournament.
Commissioner of Police Chester Williams: “I am sure that you are aware of the fact we have many young people who have been plagued by street violence and we have some who are unable to move from point A to point B within the city itself. We see this tournament as way to allow our youths who have issues with each other to be able to come together through sports and interact with a view to minimizing the tension that may exist between them and so this tournament has great significance for us as police officers. It is a way for us to also reach out to the young people to show them that the police are not only about locking them down and sending them to jail. We are also about finding ways and means by which we can reach out to them and try to promote peace between them through sports. Yes we have seen significant progress due to these activities where if you would come to the games when they are being played you will see that these young men despite the fact that they come from different parts of the city may have conflict among themselves that whenever they are engaged in these sports they are very respectful to each other, they are very helpful to each other, they demonstrate a great degree of sportsmanship among themselves and a great degree of respect for each other. This is what we want to see being done and we wish we could expand it across the country because the time has come where Belize City is not the only area that is affected by gang violence but we have seen that the gang violence has spread in other parts of the country and we wish that maybe next year as was said by the representative from Hard Rock Team we can expand and include the teams out district so they too can be a part of it. That again will give the team members an opportunity to be able to go and play not only in Belize City but in other parts of the country and that will also serve for them as an adventure where they go to move around the country and engage in sports and interacting and meeting people across the country so we want to make it bigger hopefully next year.”
According to the ComPol, the more young people the police department can get under their wing, the better, so they will assign someone from the Community Policing Unit to take over the Youth Cadet Core initiative on the Southside of Belize City.