Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Not to be missed: Hoops in the Hood Finals

A terrific example of community development in action will be on display this Saturday afternoon at Seward Park in Chicago (401 W. Division at Orleans) when youth and adults from seven neighborhoods come together for the 2008 Hoops in the Hood Cross-City Finals, a basketball program that is about so much more than sports.

Hoops is a direct response to violence on the streets of our city. It is a structured, well-organized way to engage local kids and young adults in a safe and nurturing environment, on the very streets where they might feel unsafe at other times or under different circumstances. The Resurrection Project in Pilsen started its Friday night basketball league 10 years ago, setting up courts on different blocks each week, and in the past two years the concept has spread to a network of seven neighborhoods.

Teams will fight it out for trophies after an opening ceremony at 1 p.m., with the first-round games at 1:30 in three divisions: peewee (ages 8 to 10), minor (11 to 14) and major (15 to 19). Semi-final and final rounds will be followed by the championship game at 4 p.m.

About 400 participants will come from West Haven, Little Village, Pilsen, North Lawndale, Humboldt Park, Englewood and Logan Square. There'll be food, arts and crafts, and plenty of good feeling as kids and adults come together from across gang lines, neighborhoods and cultures. The Chicago Police Department is a key partner across all the leagues and will be on the scene as usual.

The photos here are from last year's tournament and were taken by Juan Francisco Hernandez; the video below, by Sarahmaria Gomez and Alex Fledderjohn of TuMultimedia, gives a great overview of what the league is all about. (View a higher quality version here.)

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