PPI Board member and General Manager of Southeastern Europe for the adidas group, Lawrence Norman, visited PeacePlayers-Cyprus this week to meet our young leaders and play some basketball. Lawrence was joined by a group from the adidas Corporate office in Cyprus. For many of the adidas Cyprus team, this was the first time they have interacted with Turkish-Cypriot basketball players, and many stated repeatedly how much fun they had and how much they learned.
A small island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus has been physically divided by a UN Buffer Zone since an inter-ethnic war in 1974 split the island into two separate Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities. Today, many youth grow up without ever meeting anyone from the “other side”. PeacePlayers-Cyprus uses the game of basketball to allow Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot boys and girls to play together, learn together and build positive relationships that overcome generations of mistrust. PeacePlayers is currently the only year-round bi-communal youth sports organization on the island.
“When you hear these stories from a kid, you know that they mean it. PeacePlayers has truly changed my life as well, and seeing what happens when you put two kids together from different walks of life and seeing they can get along because of basketball, it’s amazing.” – Lawrence Norman
When the group from adidas arrived, they were greeted by PeacePlayers coaches and participants. International Fellow Ryan Hage and Program Coordinator Stephanie Nicolas gave a presentation on the history of PeacePlayers and how we use sport to promote bi-communal interaction. United States Ambassador John Koenig, also spoke to the group, saying: “It’s been a pleasure since I have become an Ambassador here to be associated with a program like PeacePlayers-Cyprus and to support them in any way possible.”
Finally, PeacePlayers participants were given a chance to share their own experiences and explain how the program has helped them overcome stereotypes and build lifelong friendships. Many from the adidas group were amazed at what the youth had to say, and had many questions including how they could get their own children involved in the program!
After the meeting, the adidas group played basketball with the PeacePlayers participants at Ledra Palace. Lots of smiles and laughs were had during the contest, and the adidas workers were impressed at the skill of some of the participants. Lawrence Norman participated in the action on the court, and spent time speaking with many of our participants, hearing stories of how PeacePlayers has changed their life. Later, Lawrence told our staff, “When you hear these stories from a kid, you know that they mean it. PeacePlayers has truly changed my life as well, and seeing what happens when you put two kids together from different walks of life and seeing they can get along because of basketball, it’s amazing.”
We would like to thank adidas for their ongoing support, and the group for spending a whole day with PeacePlayers, getting to know the coaches and participants on a personal level. On behalf of all our coaches and participants around globe, THANK YOU ADIDAS!