North vs. South games return to Brielle Park

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The annual North vs. South Sports Challenge returned to Brielle Park June 5. [DANIELLA HEMINGHAUS]

BRIELLE — The annual North vs. South Sports Challenge returned to Brielle Park Saturday, bringing together community members of all ages for some friendly competition and raising funds to support a local family in need.

The games between the two sides of town returned to the park June 5 for the first time since 2018, according to borough officials. The games were not held in 2019 as the borough focused on its Centennial Celebration, nor were they held in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

“About 12 or 13 years ago I was sitting in the park watching a flag football league and I noticed that there were basketball games, tennis matches going on, and I said we can bring the community together one day and play sports all day and raise money for somebody in town,” said John Devereux, chairman of the Brielle Parks and Recreation Commission.

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“That first year we decided to have the event … we had a great turnout. We made some money and everybody was happy and we decided that we were going to do it every year. We took a year off for the Centennial because we wanted people to go to that, and then last year was COVID and we couldn’t play, so this year we brought it back and we have the biggest turnout we have ever had. 

“I think people wanted to get out, they wanted to see their friends again, to play some sports and raise some money for someone in town. It is just a great community event and people just look forward to spending a beautiful day at Brielle Park and the park really makes it happen because you can have multiple events at the same time. We start early with tennis and then we end with a tug-of-war and then we have 20-plus events in between, so it is a lot going on but a lot of fun. You can tell by the crowd they all have a good time.”

In addition to the early morning tennis matches, Saturday’s event included the North Team [wearing red] and the South Team [wearing blue] going head to head in such activities as volleyball, kickball, ultimate frisbee, softball, flag football, dodgeball and basketball.

“It is a great little get-together where everybody in town, both sides, come out and we compete in a day filled with sports for the kids and the adults. It has been really great and the whole point is to try and get together, enjoy the day, have some fun and do something nice for a good cause,” said Robert Booth, captain of Team North. 

“We spread it out so that there is a nice mixture of adult and kid play going on at the same time. It is a lot of fun. It is one of our favorite days of the year for sure. You can definitely find varying ranges of competitiveness throughout the day. The biggest thing though, regardless of the result, regardless of what happens, the whole point is to raise money for a good family.

“My favorite part of this year is that we have the most participants than any other year, about 750 participants, where the previous number was around 400. We’ve doubled the number of people participating, and the money donated is more than ever before, so that to me is the biggest thing.”

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