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Lifetime friendships formed at annual sports carnival

Eye on the hoop ... a young South Australia player looks to shoot against Victoria in their match.

The Salvation Army Interstate Basketball and Netball Carnival is an all-ages annual sporting event for participants from around the country.

Launching with an opening ceremony, basketball and netball teams play up to 12 games on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Players have a rest day on Wednesday before playing finals on Saturday.

One of the Tasmania teams cheer themselves on before a match.

“We see the value of doing a week together, doing something we all love, but spending time in community,” explains Marj Rava, Youth and Young Adults secretary. “Whilst it’s great to play the sports we love, it’s the conversations and interactions off court that have most value.”

The South Australia/Northern Territory Division hosted the event this year, which was held at The Lights Community and Sports Centre in Adelaide from 9-16 July.

The competition included Men’s A basketball, Men’s B basketball, Women’s basketball, Under-18 boys, Under-14 mixed and netball. Teams came from South Australia, NSW/ACT, Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and Papua New Guinea. The all-ages event sees some participants having attended for decades and some having attended for the first time.

“I love how I see young people make friends with those from other states and how those relationships continue on beyond the event,” Marj says. “Young people get around each other and cheer each other on, and we see those relationships grow and see them encourage and cheer each other on throughout other areas of life.”

NSW/ACT and Queensland players mix before their match.

The event opens with a meal, features devotional times each day, and ends with a presentation on Saturday night where awards are given out. The community-building event is multigenerational, forming friendships that can continue for a lifetime.

“We see people connect in, who for whatever reason, haven’t connected with other communities and they say they have found ‘their people’,” says Marj. “People find a place where they are welcomed, feel belonging and are cheered on to know they have worth and value.”

Below is a selection of quotes from participants on the value of the carnival:

“It brings people together through sport. It gives you opportunity to make friendships that you reconnect with year to year. It’s more affordable way for people to travel longer distances who wouldn'’ necessarily have that opportunity otherwise.

It’s a great way to build and strengthen Christian friendships while doing something you love.” – Phoebe Johnson (Qld)

“Carnival always gives you an amazing opportunity to talk about deeper things of life. It’s a totally different environment to the every day, and people are a lot more receptive to exploring new ideas and different ways of looking at things. Enduring friendships that have lasted decades are one of my favourite things about carnival and coming together in a face-to-face real-world environment.” – Emma Johnson (Qld)

“I love:

- the relationships that are formed through the carnival that go on to last for years...across generations as well.

- the spirit of carnival ... where everyone is encouraged to try their hardest, but it is so inclusive of everyone - age and ability.

- the ministry opportunities, spiritual formation and life lessons that are resultant from every carnival, which are embedded in everyone who experiences it.” – Di Hobbs (Vic.)

“The thing I love about the carnival is the fellowship. It's about more than just playing sports; it’s about coming together and encouraging each other in everything we do throughout the week.” – Jordyn Walker (NSW/ACT)

“It brings people into a Christian community who might otherwise never experience today’s church. Encouraging an exploration of Christianity through mutual interest and love of basketball/netball.” – Chris Clarke (SA)

“My highlight would be simply catching up with people that I haven't seen for at least four years, and in the case of some people in SA, it has been about 10 years. Despite these long periods of not seeing these people, the sense of community and shared history at this event is very evident, and it something that I value and I'm sure many others do as well.” – Craig Bergin (WA)

The NSW/ACT team that won the Men’s A basketball title, beating South Australia in the final.


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