Last night as America tuned in to see our television and movie celebrities awkwardly accept their awards on the 70th edition of the Golden Globes, we couldn’t help but feel the urge to give our own awkward thank you speech to our very own celebrities, the many coaches and staff that run our PeacePlayers programs around the world. In Belfast, coaches in the PPI - Northern Ireland program bring children from historically conflicting Protestant and Catholic communities together in another celebratory event, basketball. The Northern Ireland staff did a particularly great job this year, hosting several large tournaments, as well as participating the Belfast Interface Games, that featured another star, NBA center Brook Lopez!
In Cyprus, our staff brought hundreds of Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot girls and boys together to play basketball on mixed teams in the United Nations Buffer Zone, the one place in the country where the children can meet on neutral ground. At the same time, PPI - South Africa helped kids deal with issues like HIV/AIDS, teaching them skills to overcome peer pressure and become young leaders in their communities. The big blockbuster hits out of the PPI – Middle East program include the All-Star League, the Jerusalem Peace League and the Jerusalem Girls Basketball League that feature players from Arab and Jewish communities in Israel and the West Bank.
The Golden Globes had a lot of girl power last night. From Tina Fey and Amy Pohler’s hilarious hosting to Lena Dunham’s TV show “Girls” winning big. Former President Bill Clinton made an appearance to introduce the Steven Spielberg film “Lincoln.” But show host Poehler delighted the crowd when she returned to the stage and said ecstatically, “That was Hillary Clinton’s husband!” Girls are showing off their power in PeacePlayers too. Last year, girls made up 54% of PPI’s total participants, and several programs are dedicated solely to helping women overcome social barriers.
Actors often talk about all the hard work and dedication that goes into winning a Golden Globe, but I would like to recognize all the coaches, mentors and players involved in PPI, who pour their heart and soul into basketball and peace building every day. The exit music is starting to play, but before they escort us off the stage, I want to say thanks to all of our supporters around the world who help PeacePlayers make our globe a little more golden.