On Saturday 4 May, residents and staff from YMCA Bournemouth’s hostel in Westover Road were invited to meet legendary exhibition basketballers, the Harlem Globetrotters, before going on to enjoy the team’s electrifying performance at the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC). The invitation came about as a result of the Globetrotters and YMCA having a long relationship based on the shared aim of bringing more people together to share the benefits of basketball, a game effectively invented by YMCA.
It was in 1891 at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts that the idea for basketball took shape. A 31-year-old graduate student called James Naismith was given the task of creating an indoor physical activity to distract a rowdy class and keep them physically active during the winter months.
The first attempt did little to reduce rowdiness. Played with a football and with peach baskets as goals, the game ended in a free-for-all with an injury tally that included several black eyes, one separated shoulder and one player knocked unconscious! Understandably, this led Naismith to introduce a rule dictating that you couldn’t run with the ball and thus basketball was born. With YMCA’s worldwide network of gymnasiums, the game soon flourished.
The hostel residents invited to the Globetrotters’ event were mostly former rough sleepers whom the charity provides with one-to-one support and free access to a range of sporting facilities, including a basketball court, as part of their journey towards greater self-confidence and independent living.
“We really appreciated the opportunity to see a world-class basketball team in action,” said YMCA resident John Nicholson. “On behalf of everyone I’d like to thank the YMCA staff that made it possible – just like the Harlem Globetrotters, they are a first-class team!” The residents were in for another treat when the Globetrotter’s paid tribute to YMCA by interrupting their perfomance to dance along to the Village People’s song of the same name!
The attendees took the opportunity to request a basketball signed by each of the Globetrotters and this will now be displayed at the charity’s Westover Road gymnasium. One of YMCA Bournemouth’s core beliefs is that everyone should be able to enjoy the benefits of physical exercise and it operates a range of local sporting facilities and projects which also allow the charity to generate income towards its work in homelessness, youth, disability and family support. These include the aforementioned Lifewise Gym and Sports Hall, The Junction Sport & Leisure Centre in Broadstone, a table tennis club in Winton and children’s holiday clubs across.
Illustrating how influential YMCAs across the world can be, Harlem Globetrotter Torch George explained how she herself had benefited from the organisation’s support:
“It was my safe haven growing up. I would always walk to the YMCA after school and play basketball with the local kids. I love the organisation and it shares the same core values as the Globetrotters. I’ve learnt so many life lessons through sports: communication, leadership, integrity and friendship. It’s critical that places like the YMCA keep their doors open for kids who have dreams for a better life”.
If you would like more information regarding YMCA Bournemouth’s sports facilities and holiday clubs please contact email@example.com
Photo: Alvaro Gonzalo