PeacePlayers-Cyprus is excited to announce they will be sending the first ever bi-communal boys basketball team to compete internationally in the upcoming Hansa Cup in Norway. The opportunity is generously supported through collaboration of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affiars, the EEA grants and Norwegian companies: The Jotun Group and The Norwegian Choice Hotels. The trip will fund the participation of 6 Greek-Cypriot and 6 Turkish-Cypriot PeacePlayers to join forces and compete as one at the Norwegian youth basketball tournament to be held in Bergen, Norway. The boys will spend 7 days in Norway from April 23rd through April 30th.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our youth” says coach Orhun Mevlit. The players will not only be playing basketball with one another, but they will also have the opportunity for significant cultural exchange as the boys will be staying with host families, visiting local schools, meeting with representatives from the Norwegian Minstry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo and visiting the Peace Research Institute of Oslo(PRIO).
Ambassador Sjur Larsen, the dynamic Norwegian Ambassador to Greece and Cyprus, initiated the idea. Ambassador Larsen learned about PeacePlayers this past year and instantly was drawn to our mission of using sport as a tool to promote peace and build friendships across a divided island. This past October when the Norwegian National Football team arrived in Cyprus for a friendly match the Ambassador assembled a crew to join PeacePlayers on the court for a scrimmage and to learn more about our program (check out the blog from this event: Norway National team teams with PPI). From that time forward the relationship has continued to grow and Ambassador Larsen has worked to seek an opportunity to further connect our communities.
Currently the team of 12 is working hard, practicing 2-3 times a week in preparation for their upcoming trip to Norway. PeacePlayers and Ambassador Larsen hosted a Press Conference yesterday at The Home for Cooperation inviting members of press from across the island. Two of the players, Aral Aziz and Savvas Argyrou, represented the team at the press conference. When each were asked what this trip means to them, Aral responded, “This is a great opportunity not only to play basketball, but to make new friends” and Savvas stated, “this is a great chance to learn about the Norwegian culture and to play basketball with my Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot friends.” While many of the boys had met each other before becoming teammates, they now share a common vision stepping on the court as one team representing a united Cyprus.
Continue to follow our blog for updates on the team as the young men build their connections on and off the court through this tremendous opportunity.