PH International

GE PLAY Working Group Members Take Initiative

Georgia | Georgian Police as Leaders in Athletics for Youth | 20 Dec 2015


GE PLAY hosted its final regional tournaments for western and eastern parts of Georgia on December 19-20, 2015. The tournament in Tbilisi brought together nine school based youth basketball teams from Rustavi and Tbilisi. A similar event in Kutaisi gathered 14 teams from Poti, Zugdidi, Senaki and Kutaisi schools.

Both of the tournaments were fully initiated and organized by GE PLAY working group members, including leaders Natalia Chrelashvili, Head of Administration of the Office of School Resource Officers and Medea Mkheidze, Director of Women's National Basketball Team of Georgia. The main purpose of the tournaments was to provide continued motivation for the students already enrolled in the program; boost the program publicity and attract more youth. It also increased the program ownership among the GE PLAY informal working group members as they attempted to make their first independent steps toward program sustainability taking full control of managing all logistical and organizational matters and leading effective communication at various levels in order to realize their goal. Seven Police officers and fifteen School Resource Officers (school wardens) across Georgia worked side by side with the GE PLAY working group member SROs to conduct preliminary trainings and prepare the teams for the tournament.

On December 19, 8 teams from Tbilisi and Rustavi schools competed against each other in the gym of Tbilisi Public School #162 donated to use free by the school administration. Team “Maksimali” from Tbilisi School #143 defeated “Gorda” from Rustavi Public School #2 in an intense final and became the champion of East Georgia GE PLAY Basketball Tournament.

On December 20, Kutaisi Sports Palace (also donated for use by Kutaisi city administration) hosted 14 teams from Kutaisi, Zugdidi, Poti and Senaki public schools. The tournament lasted the whole day and attracted the interest of a lot of youth. The basketball team from Kutaisi Public School #3 showed the best results and became the champion of West Georgia GE PLAY Basketball Tournament.

“We trained really hard to achieve these results. I feel very proud and really hope that we’ll have a chance to participate in similar tournaments in the future,” said Saba Mosidze, a student from the winning team in Kutaisi.

The story was covered by local TV companies and newspapers:

Over 80 students directly participated in Eastern and Western Georgia GE PLAY basketball tournaments and at least twice as many youth came to watch the tournament and support their friends. The winners were awarded with certificates, medals and trophies.

Both of the tournaments were a big success. “We are getting lots of positive feedback from participating youth as well as their parents and friends, “ said Levan Lolua, Rustavi Public School #4 SRO and more recently an enthusiastic basketball coach. “More and more students are applying for program participation and this has a tremendous, positive effect on our own (SROs’) motivation,” he admitted.

“Unfortunately the program has come to an end, but we will definitely continue our work with GE PLAY participant schools, SROs and Police Officers to promote healthy lifestyles and providing youths with the opportunities on how to meaningfully spend their free time,“ promised Medea Mkheidze, GE Play working group member and director of women's national basketball team in Georgia

“We were quite skeptical about the whole concept of School Resource Officers (school wardens) and Police Officers working together in the beginning,” admitted Natalia Chrelashvili, Head of Administration of the Office of School Resource Officers, “but we are starting to see some real results and an unbelievably high level of motivation from the side of both students and their coaches, SROs and Police Officers that are really busy in their regular work and are not paid a penny to take on this extra responsibility. What can I say? Go GE PLAY!” smiling enthusiastically.