Today’s blog is brought to you by Nicos Mashias, PPI-CY board member and coach. He volunteers at every twinning, camp and tournament and gives his experience at this years PeacePlayers-Cyprus 3 vs. 3 Winter Tournament!
I joined PeacePlayers about 3 years ago, when fellows Gunnar and Adam were in Cyprus and they asked to have a friendly game between the young kids of ENAD, the team I was coaching at the time, and the PeacePlayers team of Dali. After that, I participated in a couple of twinnings and then at the summer camp in Agros, loving every minute of it. Since then, I became good friends with all the coaches, learned a lot from the experienced ones, and managed to get closer with the kids.
Most of them were present this past Saturday at our annual Winter 3×3 Tournament. According to a lot of people, the event was a success, with everyone enjoying a rainy Saturday playing basketball indoors, seeing friends they don’t get to see often or making new ones; including myself. The event started in the morning with about 150 kids 10-16 years old from both sides, boys and girls. They were divided into four groups (junior boy/girls, senior boys/girls) and in mixed teams. There were games all day long with popular music on loud speakers, as kids and coaches were dancing on the side lines, taking selfies and singing in groups as if they were auditioning for a talent show. Some parents were there as well watching their kids play and really enjoying themselves.
It is worth mentioning that Korean Broadcasting Network was at the event taking interviews from children and coaches. Mr Shin, the journalist, kept asking me at the beginning of the event if the kids are Turkish Cypriot or Greek Cypriot. I kept saying, ‘Both.’ He would look at the court, all kids wearing their green PPI t-shirts playing around, and ask me again the same thing. He could not tell who is TC or GC, could not see any awkwardness between them or even a separation into their own groups. I turned around, looked at the court full of kids aged 10-16 years old and said, “Well, they are kids, they are just happy to come and play basketball.” This is the other beauty of sports, it unites people.
After the final games for each group, and as part of our joined program with the Cyprus Turkish Diabetes Association, “Promoting Peace and Wellness in Cyprus”, sandwiches, apples and orange juices were provided for each participant: children, coaches, volunteers, parents.
Much of the success was due to the efforts of our working staff (Stephanie, Ryan, Jale and Sureyya), coaches who were able to come (Andreas, Michael, Konstantinos, Sevki, Hasmet, Bahar) and the young leaders. Their commitment all year long, as well as the rest of coaches and leaders who could not make it, keeps this program alive and evolving, planting the seeds for better things to come!
It’s actually very cool to be a PeacePlayer! #itscooltobeapeaceplayer