IN an effort to use sports as a tool to bridge the gap between constituencies, one corporate citizen will continue their partnership with the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s summer youth programme.

Caribbean Bottling Company (CBC), local producer of Coca-Cola products, has partnered with the Royal Bahamas Police Force to bring together the nine districts of New Providence in an annual Sprite Basketball tournament.

Beginning Monday, July 13 through August 6, teams from the nine RBPF summer camps will field respective teams and square off in the tournament, which will be hosted at various police station venues throughout the capital.

“This tournament is in keeping with the commissioner’s policy for community outreach in 2015. It is an honour to be a part of this great accomplishment and it is a joy to work with the community and with these young people through the game of basketball,” said Inspector Wilton Johnson of the Northeastern Division.

Games are hosted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, beginning at the Carmichael Police Station, followed by the South Beach and Elizabeth Estates stations.

The playoffs and championship will be hosted at the CI Gibson Gym.

“The different stations are in different communities so it brings out all of the people from that constituency together to support their players. It is a keen competition and we like the atmosphere. The students have high expectations for the camp and they really look forward to this coming into the year. It’s like a highlight for them so the competition is always very high,” Johnson said.

“The joy is that we can bring the communities together and partner with therm through playing sports. We all know basketball is one of those sports that really brings communities together. The competition is keen so rather than saying ‘I beat you, I’m going to shoot you down,’ they will say ‘I beat you on the court, I dunked on you, I shot a three-pointer on you,’ and this is the type of interaction we are looking for in the youth of our nation. It came to life in our games last year where we saw the guys from East Street play against some of the guys in the Kemp Road and Englerston areas. They are shaking hands before the game, after the game they talk and socialise and its just a beautiful scene.”

Since the tournament’s inception, CBC has been onboard as the chief sponsor of the event.

“The Sprite Basketball tournament was created by CBC as a way to offer support to the neighbourhoods across New Providence that we serve,” said Cara Douglas, CBC marketing manager.

“Each of the individual districts were looking for corporate support for summer events in their areas, and we saw an opportunity to bring the districts together around a positive event, basketball. CBC rightly believed this would foster a deeper relationship between the young men, their communities, and the police department. This tournament is a safe and supportive environment for young men to participate in each summer, and we are so proud to continue to support it with the Royal Bahamas Police Force.”

CBC has supported the tournament by organising every facet – ordering uniforms, putting together the end of tournament party, giveaways and prizes – and ensures that each event kids are fully hydrated.

“It is a safe and constructive environment. These are skills that will set them up for life and a great athletic career, hopefully though basketball,” Douglas said. “But also they are getting to know the police, the people that protect their community, and hopefully that can foster some type of community involvement.”

The South Beach camp are defending champions of the event.

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