The Iskele/Trikomo and Famagusta teams at a friendly match in 2009
It’s September in Cyprus. The air is finally cooling to a tolerable 88 degrees, days are getting shorter, and schools are again filled with the familiar sounds of crowded hallways and excited children. This also means that PeacePlayers teams are coming back together after a summer off. Each summer there is some shuffling of PeacePlayer teams as coaches move to new schools, children get older and new teams are brought in. But there are some teams that stand the test of time, continuing stronger than ever.
One of those teams is located in Iskele/Trikomo. Iskele/Trikomo is a small village in the north of Cyprus with a population of only a few thousand Turkish-Cypriots. Prior to 1974 the village was a primarily Greek-Cypriot town known as Trikomo. After the events of 1974, the inhabitants of Trikomo were pushed south. At the same time a large group of Turkish-Cypriots moved to Trikomo after being relocated from their homes in the city of Larnaca on the island’s south coast. They renamed the village Iskele as a reminder of the place they once lived in.
PPI-CY coach Sevki with his son Cetin, his wife Ferda, and his daughter Sevili.
PeacePlayers came to Iskele in 2006, making it one of the first villages approached to start a team. Coach Sevki Pirlanta had his own small basketball team at the time, having moved to Iskele 13 years ago, after graduating from a university in Famagusta. He landed a job at a local primary school and soon decided to start his own basketball program. It started slowly, but soon kids from all over the village joined, including his own son, Cetin.
“Cetin is one of the main reasons I decided to join PeacePlayers,” Sevki says “I don’t want my son to go through the same things I had to deal with growing up.” Sevki was born in Paphos, but left when he was only 3 years old to escape intercommunal fighting in the region. Sevki was introduced to PeacePlayers in 2006, only a few years after starting his own program, just as PeacePlayers was just getting started in Cyprus. Today the PeacePlayers program in Iskele/Trikomo is one of PPI-CY’s strongest with over 35 boys and girls.
Teslime (center) and Galatia (second from right) at the May PeacePlayers Tournament in Agros
A program like PeacePlayers can be particularly effective in a village like Iskele/Trikomo because it is a place where there would normally be no contact between Turkish-Cypriots and Greek-Cypriots. Since going into the village, PeacePlayers teams have had many bicommunal events. Teslime, a 14-year-old PeacePlayer from Iskele/Trikomo, said that she was nervous the first time she attended an event with Greek-Cypriots, but she has now become friends with Galatia, a Greek-Cypriot PeacePlayer of the same age from Agros. They are able to stay in touch through Facebook, and look forward to seeing each other during PeacePlayer events.
Sevki’s team will be one of many PPI-CY teams coming together for a large Peace Day Basketball Tournament on September 25. The tournament will have over 200 Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot boys and girls coming together to play on mixed teams. We at PPI-CY can’t wait to see all the kids from Iskele/Trikomo as well as many new faces from all across Cyprus come together to celebrate a day of peace.
Filed under Cyprus, Global