From Football to basketball Norwegians step off the field and onto the court to show their support for PeacePlayers Cyprus. This past Tuesday while the Norwegian National Football team was in Cyprus to play a match against the national team of The Republic of Cyprus they took time out of their busy schedule and along side of the Norwegian ambassador, visited PPI Cyprus and 20 of our participants. Demonstrating Norway’s tremendous support and encouragement of bi-communal relationships on the island.
The event, which brought together 10 Turkish Cypriot boys and 10 Greek Cypriot boys, to play together in the Ledra Palace Buffer Zone overcame last minute hurdles to arrange a positive meeting between the young PeacePlayers Ambassadors and the Norwegian Ambassador. With the last minute restriction to use the basketball court in the UN controlled buffer zone, the event quickly turned into a Street Ball session. Who needs a real court, when we can play a little street ball? It was a real tribute to the boy’s excitement for the game, they didn’t even flinch when they were told they couldn’t get on the court. What could have been a real barrier to the event transformed into an impromptu lesson in teamwork carrying the hoop we keep behind our office and placing it alongside the street, together they created their own court. Once the boys stepped onto their newly transformed basketball court all was forgotten: challenges, differences and anything else that would have hindered the game were left behind, it was time for basketball.
Former National team and Premier League Football stars Jan Age Fjurtoft and Henning Berg joined the PeacePlayers in the pick-up game. After the game each player was rewarded with a ticket to the National team game that evening. They also shared with each of the boys bracelets that represent the initiative “Handshake for Peace,” a collaboration between FIFA and the Noble Peace Centre, promoting mutual respect through sport. A perfect match for our young Cypriot PeacePlayers who learn to respect one another through the game of basketball.
It was an honor for PPI to host the representatives from Norway and honor for our players to play alongside of such stars as Fjurtoft and Berg. We look forward to events that could provide an opportunity for us to collaborate again.