Manchester youths rally on the basketball courts
By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Manchester - posted Wed., Jul. 24, 2013
Manchester Police Activity League Chief's 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament is now underway at Charter Oak Park on July 19. The tournament is open to all Manchester youths up to 18 years old and is free of charge. There are five days of regular games and one day of championship games. The 15-and-under league will be awarded participation metals. At the championship games – scheduled for Aug. 19 - trophies will be awarded.
After a two-week delay due to rain, the tournament got underway July 12, when there were 71 players. Due to the extreme heat, the July 19 games consisted of only 48 players. Because of the extreme heat, the referees were told to enforce a rule that each player is to hydrate before and after playing, and if anyone shows signs of heat exhaustion, they are to be sent to the cooling station immediately. This is an area that has cool water being misted into the air and is equipped with fans. Several coolers of bottled water and 20 pizzas were on hand for the players to eat and keep hydrated.
According to Detective Rick Rivard, this tournament has been a tradition for 10 years now. “Ten years ago, the chief, Marc Montminy, was very concerned about the gang activity in Manchester. The target age group was 15 to 20. Now, our target age group is 8 to 15,” Rivard said. “He asked me and Detective Anthony DeJulius to help him find a solution. The basketball tournament is what we came up with. We thought that if we could just get the gangs together in a public forum and have them compete while refraining from violence, they would be more apt to see each other as people rather than enemies. We thought that it could stop some of the gang violence that Manchester was experiencing.”
“Today, there is little to no gang violence in Manchester,” Rivard said. “We are very pleased with the outcome of the tournaments. In the past 10 years, we have never had a fight on the courts.”
Montminy started a division of the department called the Police Activity League. PAL had been operating on donations from the community until two years ago. For the past two years, no donations have been received. The chief has absorbed the cost of the tournament into his department’s budget, but any future donations would be greatly appreciated. PAL needs donations to cover the cost of the tournament shirts, pizza, ice and water.
Ed Boland was at the tournament to cheer the new players on to victory. His son, Ted Boland, was a part of each tournament until this year, because he has gone on to play college basketball. “This is a very worthy cause. Many kids benefit from this tournament,” said Boland.
To donate to PAL, call Steve Desautel at 860-645-5525 at the Manchester Police Department.