View all news

Using sport to build youth connections


Brigid Veale
24 September 2009
Far removed from the television images of the New York Police Department (NYPD), it’s cricket and soccer that are fast becoming the tools of trade for police officers in their bid to engage with youths from Middle-Eastern and Asian backgrounds.

NYPD detective and mediator Jeff Thompson will be outlining how sport has been used in various New York City communities at a free public seminar, hosted by Southern Cross University’s Centre for Peace and Social Justice, at the SCU Riverside campus, Tweed Heads, on Monday, September 28. The talk will also cover mediation and conflict resolution work, including volunteer mediating in the court for credit debt disputes.

Mr Thompson, who is visiting his wife’s family in Murwillumbah, specialises in conflict resolution, mediation and consulting and is the coordinator for the NYPD United Soccer and NYPD Cricket. The program involving organised soccer and cricket competitions was designed as a way of opening up communication channels with the Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities in New York.

“To have genuine peace, you need understanding. In order to have understanding, you must have communication,” Mr Thompson said.

“We realised they play and are passionate about cricket and soccer. Many of these young men never had any interaction with the police before this competition. By putting together free soccer and cricket competitions, the police are not only providing something for these young males to do while school is out for the summer but also since it is organised by cops, the participants get to interact with them as well.

“They get to see the officers in another light - as regular people who also love the sport. How do the participants find this out? The answer is by practicing and playing cricket alongside the officers and by having the opportunity to talk to them in an informal setting.”

Mr Thompson said social media including Twitter and blogs had been incorporated, providing information to a wider community beyond the actual participants.

“NYPD UNITED Soccer and NYPD Cricket were not only created as ways to create new relationships, but to explore valid learning experiences,” he said.

“It is important to emphasize the learning experiences occurred not only in the communities and with the participants but with the NYPD. All the police personnel involved directly and indirectly have gained a deeper understanding of the communities which we serve. The best way to serve others is by getting to know them.”

The free seminar will be held on Monday, September 28, at SCU Riverside, Brett Street, Tweed Heads, from 1pm to 2pm.

Photo: Jeff Thompson, a New York Police Department detective and mediator will be the guest speaker at a free seminar at Southern Cross University.