This past week Fellow Henry Louis and Coordinator Athanasios Souflias volunteered at The Nareg School in Nicosia during the school’s annual Fun Day. The Nareg School is an Armenian school that teaches Cypriots of Armenian descent and other Diasporan Armenian children living in Cyprus. The school is located on Armenias Street and has branches in Limmasol and Larnaca as well. Situated near the Armenian Prelature of Cyprus and the Saint Asdvadzadzin Church, the school sits in a centralized location for Armenians in Cyprus. Armenia is a small mountainous country located in the Caucus Region with a population of approximately 3 million people. It borders Turkey, Georgia, Iran, and Azerbaijan. Armenians form a very large Diaspora outside of Armenia and are spread out across the world, a sizeable number of which live in Cyprus.
The day was filled with running practices for the young Armenian children, ages 6 to 12. The kids flowed from Fun Day station to station wearing their color-coded team hats, sometimes too big for their heads and sometimes too small. When told to do certain drills the kids ripped their hats off and dove into the drill without worry. When the work was done, Henry and Athanasios had worked with well over 120 kids, as they all scrambled back and forth from their art classes, their dancing lessons, their cooking sessions, and other fun-filled activities; however, each time a new mass of kids came down to the sun-soaked concrete of the basketball court they were excited and focused, filled with an eagerness to learn the game and were never drained from their other activities. Though many of the children were younger than the typical PPI-CY participants, they were adept at their dribbling and defense stations, where they displayed their trilingual speaking skills, in Armenian, Greek, and English. The Nareg staff assisted throughout the day and was excited to have their students learning fundamental basketball skills. While practicing under the white walls of the school sitting on a hill above the court, a sense of community could be felt, that an Armenian culture was really appreciated in Nicosia.
PeacePlayers Cyprus plans to start a team this upcoming fall at the Nareg School. The team would further expand PeacePlayer’s identity as an organization that focuses on multiculturalism, and would be the first Armenian team in PeacePlayers history! This July some of the PeacePlayers Cyprus staff will also make an effort to teach basketball at the Nareg Summer Camp. To engage more of Cyprus’ youth in sport with a social conscience and to expand into new cultural territories is an exciting prospect for PeacePlayers Cyprus.