On Saturday and Sunday November 19 and 20, PPI-CY held a coaches retreat for all of our coaches. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we enjoyed the opportunity to bring all of our coaches together for a weekend to bond and give thanks to our dedicated local coaching staff. The weekend started with a full day Anatomy of Peace seminar. The seminar, which was led by PPI-CY Board Member Tarik Tekman, and myself taught our coaches about conflict resolution techniques and how they can be applied to the basketball court. The seminar was also open to people from the NGO sector who came to learn more about PPI-CY’s work.
Following the seminar, the coaches went to cheer for PPI-CY Coordinator, Athanasios, play in a match between his team Omonia and AEK, which Omonia lost. Even after a tough defeat, we were all in good spirits as we ate Japanese style noodles together. That night everyone bunked up in a local hotel to try and get some sleep to prepare for the next day. In the morning everyone ate a delicious local breakfast together and walked to Ledra Palace in the buffer zone.
In a new agreement between PPI-CY and the United Nations, PPI-CY has been given permission to use the basketball courts in the back of Ledra Palace for our future bicommunal events, giving us a great opportunity to bring our children together without dealing with the hassles of border crossings and ID checks.
Later the coaches met with PPI-CY Board President Akis for a meeting where everyone gave an update for their teams, what their individual goals are, and what our expectations are as we gear up for our twinning program which will go from January to May. Then all the coaches crossed into the Turkish-Cypriot community where we took a bus to the Pendaktolos Mountains for some mountain biking. For recently hired coach, Antonia, it was her first time crossing to the north in her whole life. Even after nearly 2 years of watching kids cross for the first time, it is still amazing to see a 25-year-old woman take the first step for her family and community by crossing the boundary between her community and the other.
The bike ride took us through wooded mountains on the northern coast of Cyprus. Along the road we kept stopping for some breathtaking views of mountain peaks surrounded by the bright blue of the Mediterranean down below. We ended up at Buffavento, an old log cabin style restaurant nestled in the hills. When we arrived Antonia was so excited she tried calling her mom to tell her about her experience, but was disappointed when she realized that her phone didn’t work. “Of course,” I told her, “Your Greek-Cypriot phone doesn’t work on this side.”
After another delicious and well-deserved meal, we all gathered back onto the bus and headed back to Ledra Palace to say goodbye. Everyone at PPI-CY is excited to be going into a new year with a great group of coaches ready to bring their kids together in order to foster peace in Cyprus.