Officers from 12 and 22 Divisions, with support from the Community Partnerships & Engagement Unit (CPEU), hosted a community basketball tournament on May 26 at the Toronto Police College.
For the young players in those Divisions, it was an opportunity to interact with officers and have some fun on the court.
“It’s the first time I have been to the college and this is a great gym,” said Silverthorn Collegiate Institute Grade 12 student Julien Duker. “I would like to come back here and play again if given the opportunity. I also must say this is a nice opportunity to interact with police officers and get to know them a little bit better. It’s also a chance for them to get to know the young people. I have never had a problem with police. I just play ball and go to school.”
Constable Jason Bellamy, of 12 Division, said the three-team tournament was a platform to connect with young people from the neighbourhoods the officers police.
“It’s the first time we have set up something like this here at the college,” he said. “It is something we will love to do on a regular basis right here.”
Constable Isabelle Cotton was the principal organizer.
“This tournament is a great way to bring people together and a chance for the youth to connect with officers in a healthy and fun way,” said Cotton.
Motivational speaker Farley Flex, who spoke to the youths before the tournament, said Cotton is one of the officers from the CPEU who seek to connect with the community.
“Her sole purpose is to create harmony in the community,” he added.
Flex encouraged the young people to enjoy the opportunity to play with police officers.
“The cops don’t know your names and you don’t know theirs,” he said. “When you have officers and community members play together on the same team, nothing else matters but having some fun and trying to win the game. Celebrate the things you have in common and not worry too much about the differences.”
Canadian-born professional basketball player Mike Fraser also shared his experiences playing overseas for the last 10 years.