Talk about squad goals!
Police played basketball with hundreds of Red Hook youths in the inaugural Unity in the Community tournament at the Joseph Miccio Center on Saturday — and organizers say everyone a ball together.
“If you could have seen the interaction with the police officers and the youth playing basketball and dancing — they were dancing and joking around, the police were really with this event,” said Janet Andrews, a long time Red Hooker and now a community organizer for Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Red Hook), who also played in the tournament.
Officers from both the 76th Precinct and Police Area Service 1, which patrols public housing developments in the area, used the long arms of the law to dribble and shoot in the W. Ninth Street tournament alongside 200 local young people.
The contest was broken into four games — one between kids 12 and under, 14 and under, 16 and under, and finally one for 17–24-year-olds — and anyone was allowed to play.
Rainy weather forced the ballers indoors, though some 50 devout footy fans still braved the weather and played soccer outside with fuzz as well, Andrews said.
Andrews was inspired to create the event following a string of violence between police and young citizens around the country in recent months.
She got the idea after seeing a viral video of cops in Gainsville, Florida opting to shoot hoops with local teens after being called out for a noise complaint (in a follow-up clip, the police returned for a rematch with Shaquille O’Neal in tow).
“I said ‘We’re going to do this in my neighborhood,” she said. “This is what we need right now, everything starts from home.”
Community sports organizing group Street Soccer USA supplied T-shirts, refreshments, and decorations for the event, and many local community members kicked in cash to pay for the tournament, Andrews said.
Organizers offered face-painting, board games, and a disc jockey spun tunes all day.
Saturday’s match was the first Unity in the Community tournament, but Andrews said it will not be the last. She is planning another in early spring of next year, and she hopes to involve local firefighters and professional players.