PPI-Cyprus Reveals the Keys to Success

Coaches Sevki, Hasmet, and Orhun

Coaches Sevki, Hasmet, and Orhun

Fellow Ryan Hage recounts some wise advice he received alongside all the PPI-CY participants at this year’s summer camp – PeacePlayers veteran coach Orhun Mevlit gave three very important keys not only to having a successful camp experience, but to leading a successful life. 

RESPECT

Respect each other. Respect yourselves. Respect all that you encounter in your daily lives. This is a very important key to being a PeacePlayer. The first step to overcoming prejudice and differences is respecting one another. This can be achieved simply by being polite and representing PeacePlayers honorably. Respect not only pertains to the people around you, but you can respect the court you play on by taking care of it and not littering.

PPI-CY participants working together during a scavenger hunt at summer camp

PPI-CY participants working together during a scavenger hunt at summer camp.

PARTICIPATE

Participation is absolutely necessary to being a PeacePlayer. You have to get out of yourself and into the team. In basketball, and in life, it is imperative to actively participate. Being ‘too cool for school’ or choosing to sit out of an activity does not build team chemistry and create relationships. If one has the choice to sit it out or to play, PeacePlayers should play!

HAVE FUN!!!

This is by far the most important key to being a PeacePlayer. Being the best basketball player or scoring the most points is not the goal – it is to make friends and enjoy the game with one another. Whether it’s basketball or an ice-breaker activity, having fun is what it’s all about. If everyone is having fun, then what we’re doing at PeacePlayers is working.

Learning about these three keys may seem simple, but following them can help anyone live a better, more fulfilling life. This is the foundation of what PeacePlayers is.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cyprus

What does it take to be a Champion4Peace?

PPI-NI original Ambassadors group

Donal Hegarty (front left) and the original PPI-NI Ambassadors group

Who are your champions? Team USA, for winning the FIBA World Cup? Germany, for winning the FIFA World Cup? Maybe even Northern Ireland’s own Carl Frampton, world super-bantamweight champion? At PeacePlayers International-Northern Ireland (PPI-NI) we have our own champions we call Champions4Peace.

A little over two years ago, Joanne and a former International Fellow, Meghan Houlihan, established the “ambassador” programme. The ambassador programme was a steering group, a youth council of sorts, that provided feedback on our current programming. The goal is to develop young leaders that can help bridge divide between Catholics and Protestants in their communities.

Early last year the programme began to evolve and the Champions4Peace (C4P) programme was introduced. We had between 15 and 20 young people, aged 11-18, in the one group. At Summer Jam 2013, Donal Hegarty received the C4P of the Year award for his dedication and participation in meetings.

In the Fall of 2013, we split the group and created Junior C4Ps (11- 14yrs) and Senior C4Ps (15-20yrs). Throughout the ’13-’14 term, we seen the participants from both groups complete leadership training, attend monthly meetings and get away on some fun trips, such as the Clare exchange and watching the Northern Ireland women’s world cup qualifier. At the Summer Jam 2014, Brooklyn O’Hare was crowned C4P of the Year, for her upbeat energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to the programme.

Brooklyn O’Hare winning the C4P of the Year Awards

Brooklyn O’Hare winning the C4P of the Year Awards

This year the Junior C4Ps have grown as a group with 20 members from all sides of Belfast City. Our monthly meetings have been focused on arranging fundraisers, training in our three pillars (community relations, basketball and sport4change),  and organizing social gatherings and group discussions on the current issues in Northern Ireland. This group of young people have been working incredibly hard to fundraise for our upcoming Belfast2Brooklyn trip. In just under 3 months, they will have raised a total of £1,100. They have accomplished this by through running a Car Wash4Peace, a Sponsored Onesy Dribble Walk, Shoot Out Sweep, and Pie4Peace Challenge.

Junior C4Ps in Belfast’s Victoria Square during the Sponsored Dribble Walk

Junior C4Ps in Belfast’s Victoria Square during the Sponsored Dribble Walk

This past weekend we had two great sessions with our junior C4Ps, a meeting on Saturday in which we discussed Community Relations, and a social night with the Senior C4Ps on Sunday. On Saturday we had a great conversation about the Peace Walls in Belfast, how they felt about them, what they imagined it would be like without them, and if they wanted them to come down.

On Sunday night, 21 C4Ps both junior and senior gathered in Peace House to watch USA vs Serbia in the FIBA World Cup Final. They shared pizza, conversation, and support for Team USA. The Junior C4Ps continue to form bonds that cannot be replicated in any other programme. These kids have now made friends for life during this programme. Including friends that they would never have had the opportunity to meet if it wasn’t for Junior C4Ps and PeacePlayers. As a group they will continue to fundraise together for the aforementioned Belfast to Brooklyn trip. This trip of a lifetime will see the Junior C4Ps putting what they have learned through the programme into good practice, by running a Game of 3 Halves event for their partner organization and partaking in a cultural exchange.

Both Junior and Senior C4Ps watching the FIBA World Cup Final

Both Junior and Senior C4Ps watching the FIBA World Cup Final

 Joanne says that “I admire these kids, everything they do together, the opinions they have formed, the friendships they’ve been willing to have and the leadership qualities that are beginning to show. This is the next generation of PeacePlayers coaches and community leaders. I feel so privileged to be part of this programme and I know that coaches like Michaela Thompson and Ryan Stewart, who have been helping me with the Junior C4P group, certainly feel the same.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Northern Ireland

Setting Goals for a Bright Future

Nearly 50 LDP participants from five different communities came together this past Saturday for a day of basketball and much much more

Nearly 50 LDP participants from five different communities came together last Saturday for a day of basketball and life skills lessons.

The Leadership Development Program at PPI-SA has seen a huge boost in 2o14. The community of Umlazi launched a team in April with Lamontville, Wentworth, and Molweni all following suit, and now the LDP is thriving!

The LDP recruits students grades 8 through 12 (ages 14-18) to receive more in-depth basketball and life skills training, as they learn not only to live healthy lives themselves, but also to serve as leaders within their own families and communities.

Teens experience the real thing, as tour guide and former PPI Coach Sbahle gives them a quick lecture

Teens experience university, as tour guide and former PPI Coach Sbahle gives them a quick lecture at UKZN Westville.

Over the school holidays, PPI-SA staff laid out a plan to get practices up and running and scheduled games for our LDP teams to play against each other and other local high school teams. In Durban, boys and girls high school basketball seasons run at different times of the year, with girls’ taking place term 3 (August-September) and boys’ term 4 (October-November). So while our female LDP participants remain busy scrimmaging at local high schools this month, this past Saturday PPI brought together its male LDP participants for a “man’s day.” Five teams from the communities of Lamontville, Molweni, Umlazi and Wentworth came together at the University of Kwazulu Natal (UKZN) Westville Campus for a fun-filled day of basketball and life skills lessons.

Each team got the rare treat of playing at the beautiful indoor facility at UKZN Westville (one of four indoor facilities in all of Durban). However, the highlight of the day came after the games, as the teens received a campus tour from former PPI Coach Sbahle Mkhize. Each teen left with a glimpse of what it looks like to attend university, being exposed to different majors such as Sports Science,  Health Science, Engineering and Education. They also had the opportunity to sit in one of UKZN’s many lecture halls and tour residences and the library. The visit made a positive impact on all of the participants; Justin from Lamontville expressed, “It actually made [going to college] seem possible to achieve.”

Justin, on left (from Lamontville - urban African community) and Siyethembe, (from Molweni - rurual African Community) had never met before today.

Justin (left) from Lamontville and Sigethembe from Molweni had never met before today, but the two became fast friends.

After the tour, participants were split up into smaller groups composed of members of all five teams and walked through a “Bridges of Hope” activity. The purpose of this exercise was to encourage setting goals for the future – such as attending university – and thinking through how our present actions contribute to achieving these goals. Another participant, Sigethembe from Molweni, dreams of becoming an engineer; he said the activity was “educating and gave us skills on how to plan ahead and reach our goals.”

As an added bonus, by splitting the teens up into smaller groups across communities, many made new friends along the way, like Sigethembe and Justin. This event was the first of many as PPI-SA continues to further develop and hone its Leadership Development Program in its mission to bridge divides, change perceptions and develop leaders. Check back next week for the results from two of our female LDP scrimmages!

Leave a comment

Filed under South Africa

Introducing Heba El-Hendi, PPI – ME’s Newest Fellow

Say "hi" to Heba, PPI - ME's newest Fellow.

Meet Heba, PPI – ME’s newest International Fellow!

Hello PPI community! My name is Heba El-Hendi, and I will be an International Fellow for the Middle East program. I am absolutely thrilled to join the team and commit myself to the mission of PeacePlayers. You will be hearing a lot from me in the coming months, but to start off, here is some background information about myself.

I was born to Palestinian parents in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where I spent the first eight years of my life. The year 1999 marked extreme change because my family and I immigrated to the United States. Home for me is a topic that is difficult to explain in a quick blurb because I have spent much of my life in different locations. Clinton, Utah, is the place I have lived the longest, and it’s where my immediate family currently lives. However, much of my extended family lives in the Middle East, including in the Acre area of Israel and in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, which is actually where my parents grew up.

I can easily say  the best four years of my life were spent at Emory University in Atlanta where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. While at Emory, I connected with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds, which furthered my motivation to travel. I had the opportunity to strike a balance between travel and education by studying abroad in both Morocco and Israel. After I graduated, I continued living abroad, spending a year in Morocco teaching English to university students through a Fulbright fellowship.

Heba (far right) poses with campers at the Seeds of Peace Camp this past summer.

Heba (far right) poses with campers at the Seeds of Peace Camp this past summer.

During my time studying abroad in Israel, I learned about PeacePlayers International through a past volunteer and fellow, Jack Randolph. At that time, I would have never guessed that two years later I would have an opportunity to work for PeacePlayers. After my study abroad in Israel, I became even more interested and devoted to peace initiatives. For the past two summers, I have worked with Seeds of Peace as a camp counselor for youth coming from the Middle East and South Asia. Seeds of Peace introduced me to the importance of empowering youth with the skill set and experience to listen to the ‘enemies’’ narrative while engaging in activities to build humanistic connections.

I am looking forward to continuing this line of work with PeacePlayers International – Middle East. I am excited to learn more about the organization while witnessing the power it has in bringing youth together. I’ve always thrived in settings involving interactions with youth, especially through mentorship, and I am enthused to have this opportunity with PeacePlayers. The Middle East has always been a place of interest and a place I have felt connected to. During my time in the Middle East, I hope to connect to the region in a new, meaningful way through my work as a PPI International Fellow.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Middle East

My Hope: Inspiring Others to Follow Their Dreams

 

Christiana looking fierce in her PeacePlayers gear

Christiana (left) has been a part of PeacePlayers – Cyprus for 3 years and looks forward to one day becoming a coach.

Today’s blog is written by Christiana Miltiadous, one of PPI-Cyprus’ Lead 4 Peace participants. Christiana, a Greek-Cypriot from Nicosia, has been with PeacePlayers for 3 years and has become a great mentor and role model for younger participants of the program

I’ve been with PeacePlayers for 3 years; I’m really blessed and lucky that I joined this organization. I heard about PeacePlayers 3 years ago, when coach Thanasis and Gunnar visited my teams practice and spoke to us and informed us about PeacePlayers. I liked the idea of playing together in peace and trying to unite. I got really excited when I heard about them and I immediately went home and asked my parents if I could join and they said yes. The first time I attended a PeacePlayers event was at the 2012 summer camp.

Christiana (second from right) with WNBA player, Kelly Schumacher, and her Lead 4 Peace teammates at the 2013 PeacePlayers Summer Camp

Christiana (second from right) with WNBA player, Kelly Schumacher, and her Lead 4 Peace teammates at the 2013 PeacePlayers Summer Camp

It was such an amazing experience watching everybody cooperate with each other and play basketball together and be friends. I also really liked that they invited basketball players and coaches from the USA and Israel, to help us improve our basketball skills.

The love the coaches have for basketball inspires us to continually improve our game and they taught us how to be a better person on the court as well in our everyday life.

At school they teach us that the Turkish-Cypriots are different from the Greek-Cypriots, but we are in fact all the same, we have the same interests and same passion: basketball. Ever since I joined PeacePlayers, I inform people about the amazing program and its mission.

I believe that PeacePlayers is a great organization, with great people that inspire you to follow your dreams no matter how crazy they sound.

Christiana (right) with Ayse, a Turkish-Cypriot, playing together during a twinning in the UN Buffer Zone

Christiana (right) with Ayse, a Turkish-Cypriot, playing together during a twinning in the UN Buffer Zone

I don’t have a favorite thing about PeacePlayers but the things I liked the most are the twinnings we have, the winter and spring tournaments, the summer camps and the Lead 4 Peace project. Also the amazing experience we had travelling to Norway for 9 days this last June, after the Norwegians visited Cyprus in March.

Because of PeacePlayers I have made new friends from both communities and we hang out together on weekends and during holidays.

I just want to thank my new family with PPI-CY, which gave me these amazing opportunities and experiences. They make me a better person and also a better basketball player and they inspire me to follow my dreams.

I hope to remain with PeacePlayers for a long time and hopefully be a coach in the future and inspire the young people to coexist in peace and follow their dreams.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cyprus

PPI-NI Achieves Milestone with 32 Twinnings

Catholic and Protestant students from Holy Cross Primary School and Wheatfield Primary School play sports together.

Catholic and Protestant students from Holy Cross Primary School and Wheatfield Primary School play sports together.

For many children around the world this month marks the end of summer and the start of the school year. For most, the act of getting to school is a relatively simple one: walk, bike or get a ride. Not too much to think about.

Thirteen years ago, for the children of Wheatfield Primary School and Holy Cross Primary School in North Belfast it wasn’t that simple. Students walked to school amid a torrent of abuse that no child should have to experience. The extreme nature of the situation caused headlines around the world. Once again Belfast was in the news – for all the wrong reasons.

Students from Holy Cross Primary School and Wheatfield Primary School prepare for the Super Sports Day competition.

Students from Holy Cross Primary School and Wheatfield Primary School prepare for the Super Sports Day competition.

While the outside world remembers these events as a scar on the landscape of Northern Ireland’s history, we at PPI-NI remember them for a different reason. These events were the impetus for the very first primary school Twinning. When PPI-NI brought together the Catholic and Protestant students from these two schools for a day of basketball and community relations conversations, we started something that would change this city in a fundamental way.

Through the Twinning program PPI-NI provides schools with an effective way to help bring together children from both sides of the historical political divide. Rather than simply being a diversionary sports programme, schools have access to trained coaches who can also deliver an effective community relations curriculum.

Over the past 13 years PPI-NI has strived to improve the Twinning programme. From ensuring that logistics run smoothly to the selection process for coaches and improving the curriculum, the Twinning programme in NI now runs like a well-oiled machine. From those humble beginnings has come a proven, effective tool to teach children how to manage the conflict that is a part of their lives on a daily basis.

We at PPI-NI are proud to have worked with 32 schools to deliver 16 Twinnings during the past academic year. While 22 of these schools are located in Belfast, we have begun to work with 10 schools located outside of the city in the towns of Ballymena, Bangor and Lurgan. Through all of our programmes PPI-NI worked with around 2400 children last year. Thanks to sound management practices, these 8-week programmes cost on average a mere £100 per participant to deliver.

The integrated team comprised of Protestant and Catholic students from Wheatfield Primary School and Holy Cross Primary School are Super Sports Day champions for 2014!

The integrated team comprised of Protestant and Catholic students from Wheatfield Primary School and Holy Cross Primary School are Super Sports Day champions for 2014!

What about Wheatfield and Holy Cross today? PPI-NI has made a long-term commitment to these schools and has engaged them in Twinnings for each of the past 13 years. In 2007 PPI received an award from ESPN based partially on the work it has done with these two schools. In that same year the schools participated in the Game of Three Halves for the first time, where the children played Gaelic football, rugby and soccer on integrated teams; something unthinkable a decade earlier.

We’d be lying if we said that all of the sectarian problems in Belfast have vanished. Clearly they haven’t. But as we gear up for year 14 its important to note that we have made a difference, our reach is growing and we are determined to help improve life for the people of Northern Ireland.

Leave a comment

Filed under Northern Ireland

Two Collingwood Clowns: Jade Shanice and Jordan Holtman

Jade Shanice and Jordan Holtman doubling up on their triple threat

Jade Shanice and Jordan Holtman doubling up on their triple threat

Both of these superb triple threat stances belong to students of Collingwood Primary – a public school located in the undeserved and predominantly African suburb of Wentworth. PPI-SA is one of the few after school options available to students there. PPI-SA International Fellow Benjamin Constable talks life and basketball with two of Collingwood Primary School’s finest participants: Jade Shanice and Jordan Holtman.

No matter where I’ve coached, I tend to gravitate toward calling kids by one simple term – “clowns.” Sure the first time you lay the term on them, an odd facial expression arises. Probably suggesting something along the lines of:

Did that huge kiwi coach just insult me?

What was so clown-like about jump stops and triple threat?

or

Did I hear him correctly?

One athlete has even checked her face for face paint the first time she heard it.

However, those confused expressions always turn to smiles when they realize no-one is immune to the nick name. As the expression becomes cliche, eventually absorbed into the athletes identity within the context of the player coach relationship, kids even start calling me the sacred term – “Hi Coach you clown!”

I’d even make the bold suggestion that the term enables the athletes to learn. The learning environment becomes safer as athletes become less afraid to make mistakes. Why? Because, well, everyone’s now a clown, and all clowns do is make mistakes right? If you are going to credit clowns with something, they definitely aren’t afraid to try new things.

I must admit, while preparing to coach at Collingwood Primary School, it had crossed my mind whether this term would be appropriate:

Could clowns exist in circumstances like South African townships?

Would there be anything funny or rapport generating about calling kids who come from such hardships, “clowns”?

Collingwood's tireless school rep Mark Giles, (know as Mr. Giles by the clowns) working to ensure his students are always safe and engaged after school

Collingwood’s tireless school rep Mark Giles, (know as Mr. Giles by the clowns) working to ensure his students are always safe and engaged after school

Well, like most rhetorical questions posted in this blog, the answer revolves around the same idea – of course, regardless of socioeconomic background, youth both grow and respond to mentor-ship in the same manner. To grow into happy, motivated created human beings it’s imperative that our youth are safely engaged by a diverse range of mentors. Whether it’s a hero like Mark Giles, PPI’s school rep and Collingwood teacher, or just some “clown” from PPI.

So, long story short, there’s a clown in all of us I guess. Here’s a quick conversation with two of my favorite “clowns” from Collingwood Primary School:

Jordan and Jade clowning around before practice

Jordan and Jade clowning around before practice

How long have you played basketball?

Jade: 8 months.

Jordan: 8 months, but 8 great months!

How long have you been part of PPI?

Jade: 8 months, so PPI is basketball pretty much.

Jordan: 8 months.

What is your favorite part of being a PeacePlayer?

Jade: I get to have fun and compete. It gives me a chance to play again teams that live in places I’ve never been.

Jordan: I get to play basketball. I love learning, especially how to shoot.

What have you learnt about being part of PPI-SA?

Jade: How to respect others, listen and learn, and how to be polite.

Jordan: That you must respect others for them to respect you. Respect your coach, team, everyone.

Jordan Holtman practicing his form

Jordan Holtman practicing his form

How has PPI helped you off the court?

Jade: My netball shooting has improved and I’ve learnt you have to listen first before you do something.

Jordan: How rules in basketball are really similar to rules in life.

What are your future goals/what do you want to do when you grow up?

Jade: An air hostess or archeologist.

Jordan: Soccer player or basketball coach.

Who is your favorite basketball player?

Jade: Coach Kyler (ouch Coach Ben)

Jordan: Michael JORDAN (obviously)

Leave a comment

Filed under South Africa

Summer Update – PPI-CY Staff Celebrates Jale’s Wedding!

Jale with her new husband, Semsi!

Jale with her new husband, Semsi!

International Fellow Ryan Hage recounts some of the Summer’s moments following the annual PPI – Cyprus Summer Camp including attending Managing Director Jale Canlibalik’s wedding party!

The month of August is always a time for rest and relaxation for the PPI-CY staff. After months of planning, and then a week of summer camp, the staff is completely exhausted. Quoting myself, “It was literally the most tiring week of my life, but also one of the best and most fun”.

Steph, Jale, and Ryan at the Henna party!

Steph, Jale, and Ryan at the Henna party!

Just a few days after the camp ended PPI-CY Program Coordinator Stephanie Nicolas and I had the honor of attending our Managing Director’s henna party. A henna party is a tradition that is held before the wedding to celebrate their union. Needless to say, it was a first for me and I could not have been more pleasantly surprised. The food was amazing and there is a traditional dance that takes place. Jale gets very dressed up in a traditional dress and is presented to the crowd. It was a cultural experience that I will always remember! Congrats to Jale and Semsi!

Park Guell in Barcelona

Park Guell in Barcelona

After such a hectic couple of weeks, the staff took a little vacation to enjoy Cyprus. Going to one of the many beautiful beaches was a daily occurrence for all of the staff. Stephanie even made a new friend, Curious George, a donkey that put his head in her car while driving by. And I traveled to Barcelona for a few days to take in the sites and enjoy some Spanish food. Paella and tapas were eaten frequently.

Overall, the staff had an amazing couple of weeks and are now back in the office planning for the upcoming year. We could not be more excited for all of the events and fun we will have!

Curious George!

Curious George!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cyprus

PPI Friend Brad Bessire Shares Parting Words after Four Years at USAID West Bank/Gaza

Brad picks olives as part of his work with USAID.

Brad picks olives as part of his work with USAID.

In addition to American Fellow Jamie Walsh, another great friend of PPI – ME recently finished his post in the Middle East. Brad Bessire served for four hears as the head of the Democracy and Governance Office at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID, which as part of a wide range of services, also supports PPI – ME. Among other areas, the Democracy and Governance Office oversees all USAID-funded conflict mitigation projects using people-to-people methods to bring an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Brad has been a frequent visitor at PPI – ME activities and even got on the court with our kids from time to time.

Brad has spent 14 years with USAID, including posts in Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Afghanistan, and short tours to Iraq Yemen and Bolivia. Before coming to USAID, Brad was a human rights lawyer, first representing Native Americans in Washington, DC, but it was a job in Cambodia that made Brad start to think globally, after which, he “never looked back.”

For the past four years, Brad has led the Democracy and Governance office at the West Bank/Gaza branch of USAID, which supports the development of Palestinian institutions necessary for a future Palestinian state by promoting the rule of law, increasing civic engagement, and enhancing respect for human rights. Brad said that “working in Israel and Palestine has been an amazing experience, and I am in awe at all of the people working so hard to make a difference. I am honored and blessed to have had the opportunity to work on CMM [conflict mitigation and management] programming, and helping grow the portfolio to include people working on issues of common concern has been a highlight of the tour.  Expanding it to have more partners has helped strengthen what we do. “

Brad (far right) plays basketball with PeacePlayers kids in the Mesashe region.

Brad (far right) plays basketball with PeacePlayers kids in the Mesashe region.

On a personal note, Brad added that “seeing kids come together and break down the learned stereotypes has been a highlight – whether in basketball, soccer or kids’ camps.  Getting to know everyone’s personal story has been great.”

Like everyone working to make a difference in the region, the past couple of months have made an impact on Brad as well. “The last few weeks have been pretty depressing, but the work that the CMM partners are doing gives me hope.  I have talked to many people after the Gaza conflict and they are more convinced that they are doing the right thing.  I wish we could fund more programs of this type.”

We wish Brad lots of luck in his new post at USAID headquarters in DC.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Middle East

PPI-NI CAN Project Closes the Summer with the Game of Three Halves

CAN day Celebration, participants, really excited

CAN Day Celebration

In May, PeacePlayers International-Northern Ireland put together a tender to work with Carrick, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Councils (CAN). PPI-NI does not have programmes running in any of these areas so this was a great opportunity.  Our tender was successful and the CAN partners agreed to contract us to deliver our project over the summer months when the children are on holidays.  The project is supported by PEACE III through the CAN Peace III Partnership.  The main idea of the project was to bring children from around the Borough Councils together in a fun and safe environment using sport as the medium.

Holy doing all she could to get the ball

Holy doing all she could to get the ball

This was not a smooth sailing ride for PPI-NI as we have not worked in the area before.  As such, we needed to build some relationships and trust with various groups and individuals before we even began the programme. In addition, recruiting participants from both sides of the community, over such a vast area, and trying to get them to come out of their comfort zones to meet with participants from other areas was also hard. When we initially tried to bring the children together we had a very low turnout.  Gradually  it got better, but not without considerable investment in time and energy from our Operations Team Leader Debbie Byrne and Sessional Coach Ryan Stewart.

PPI-NI coach Niamh Burns who is also a Senior Champion4Peace working on a winning plan with her team.

PPI-NI coach Niamh Burns who is also a Senior Champion4Peace working on a winning plan with her team.

Phase one of the project brought 15 young people (14-18 year olds), 5 from each of the Borough Councils, together to complete our Open College Network (OCN) course in “Understanding Diversity Through Sport” (Level One). With the  skills and confidence gained through attaining their OCN qualifications, these 15 young people were able to play a key role in supporting PPI-NI facilitators in organising the Carrick, Antrim and Newtownabbey Cross Community League (CANCCL)  – phase two of the programme.

The CANCCL was a 6 week basketball programme that established integrated sports teams with participants (aged 9-13) from across the cluster.  The finale was our Game of Three Halves (GO3H), which brought together all the participants from the CAN areas to play Gaelic football, rugby, and soccer provided by our partners in the GO3H (Ulster GAA,  Irish Football Association and Ulster Rugby).  PPI-NI coaches delivered basketball training and facilitated a ‘fourth half’ of community relations through sport conversations and exercises, while the young leaders (14-18 group) played a key role as mentors to the younger group. The success of the project was evident on the last day.  The kids really gelled over the summer and they were now working together, getting to know each other and having a great time. In a short space of time we were able to bridge divides, change  perception and develop leaders using sport.

Closing off with a big PPI-NI Chant!!!

Closing off with a big PPI-NI Chant!!!

We have to give special thanks to our partners from various areas who helped us with the project and recruiting participants and of course to the CAN Peace III Partnership for their patience and support. And yes, the what might have seemed like a “challenging” project was indeed a CAN!

newtown euro carrick antrim

Leave a comment

Filed under Northern Ireland