In January of 2009, Cyprus was hosting the first leg of the FIBA Women’s Eurocup Eighth Finals with a match between Cyprus’ own K.V. Imperial AEL and Galatasaray of Istanbul. The Eurocup Tournament, which is played every year, pits the best teams of Europe (including Cyprus and Turkey) against each in order to crown one team the champions of European basketball.
There was great anticipation going into the game. Not only did the match bring a Turkish team into the Greek side of Cyprus, but Galatasaray was unbeaten at that stage of the tournament. Cyprus’ AEL, which had been beaten twice by Galatasaray the previous year, was looking for a change of fate.
Meanwhile, PeacePlayers-Cyprus saw the match as an exciting opportunity for its kids to play under the spotlight. With half the crowd rooting for the away team Galatasaray, the atmosphere in the stadium was riotous. But when halftime came, the 13 and 14 year old girls from PeacePlayers calmly made their way to center court to play for a brief 10 minutes. The teams were mixed, with Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots playing together on the same team.
In addition to playing, the girls were given a chance to present the home team with ceremonial roses before the match, be interviewed on live television, and even celebrate on the court with the AEL players as they came away with a hard fought victory. Afterwards, the girls told their PeacePlayers coaches it was one of the best experiences they had ever had. At that moment, International Fellows Meagan and Rory, could not have been prouder to be part of PeacePlayers. Below is a short 5 minute video showing the highlights from match.
We at PPI-CY hope to be able to do this again soon.