A warm sunny February day greeted us as we entered the grounds of what was once the most famous hotel on the island of Cyprus, Ledra Palace. The luxury hotel was caught directly in the midst of the fighting in 1974 and was acquired by the UN as a station for their troops. Ledra Palace is situated in the Buffer Zone between the north and the south, and thus provides a neutral ground for us to hold our bi-weekly twinning events.
The United Nations Peacekeeping Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP), generously provide us access to their basketball court behind Ledra Palace, transportation for our teams arriving from all over the island and most importantly pizzas for the kids to share after the games. This past Saturday marked the beginning of the second half of the 2012-2013 “Twinning” program.
After a short hiatus for our Twinning program during the holiday season, the sunny February day met our 20 Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot players early Saturday morning on the court. The day saw us hosting 2 separate Twinnings. One in the morning between the players from Dali in the south and the youth from Kyrenia in the north, followed by the Kiti girls and the Lapta girls’ teams. The Twinnings take place between the same teams several times throughout the course of a season and allow for our kids coming from the two different communities to have frequent interaction with the same group of players. The ultimate goal is that through meeting with and playing with the youth from the other team throughout the season they build friendships and a few of the existing pre-conceived notions of “the other” begin to break down over time.
So as the mild sun rays of a late winter day reached down touching the court, the sounds of basketballs bouncing and kids laughing filled the grounds of Ledra Palace. It is a heart filling scene, one full of hope as the island’s future, it’s youth, unite once again on the courts of Ledra Palace. Similar scenes will be played out every other Saturday from now until the end of March. Follow us on our facebook page and our blog for more photos and updates from these and many other PPI-CY events.