PeacePlayers-Cyprus had a successful year filled with basketball, tournaments, camps, twinnings, leadership development programs and of course our PPI-CY participants who without them we wouldn’t be able to achieve the goals of PeacePlayers. We are really looking forward to this upcoming year, to build upon our existing programs and add new ones that will help us achieve more as a bicommunal organization here in Cyprus. Here are the top five moments from PPI-CY in 2012 in no particular order:
1. PPI-Cyprus Summer Camp Features NBA and WNBA Guests
In the summer of 2012, PPI – Cyprus held its annual summer camp for 64 Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot youth for 6 days and 5 nights in the mountain village of Agros. Activities that ran through the week, included basketball training, team “survival” games, a film workshop, a workshop on leadership and Anatomy of Peace training. On the court, campers were run through basketball drills and given time to compete in games. In the classroom, they learned about leadership and the importance of volunteering, the Anatomy of Peace curriculum and other life skills for personal development. The highlight of this year’s camp was the attendance of two professional basketball stars. NBA Brooklyn Nets Assistant Coach and former NBA player, Doug Overton, and former WNBA player Shaunzinski Gortman, attended the whole length of the camp as mentors and coaches.
PPI-CY was excited to have guests from the NBA and WNBA, whose expertise in all aspects of the game of basketball, including their ability to not only play but teach, is something that PPI-CY and all of its participants benefited from. The camp had a great impact on the participants, as one coach stated, “The children from both sides of the island were interacting to the point that you could not tell we were running a bicommunal event. As they played on and off the court together, the participants seamlessly weaved in and out of their assigned teams and groups leaving no one isolated or alone, regardless of where they were from.”
2. PPI-CY & Norwegian National Football Federation team up
On October 16th while the Norwegian National Football team was in Cyprus to play a match against the national team of the Republic of Cyprus, they took time out of their busy schedule to visit PPI-CY. The Norwegian ambassador and the entire team talked and played with 20 PeacePlayers participants, demonstrating Norway’s tremendous support and encouragement of bi-communal relationships on the island.
3. LDP Weekend
On 17th and 18th of November coaches and staff members selected 21 promising young leaders from our program across Cyprus to be part of our Leadership Development Program (LDP). We assembled together in the mountains of Cyprus for a weekend of intensive basketball skill development, leadership and Anatomy of Peace sessions. Along with our special guest from PPI – Middle East, Basketball Operations Director and youth coach extraordinaire Vito Gilic, our coaches from each of our teams across the island joined in the weekend and had the opportunity to learn Vito’s methods for teaching and coaching youth. On the court we worked on everything from individual skill development, cooperation among pairs and full court teamwork drills. Vito taught the coaches how to incorporate different tools resulting in highly innovative and creative training sessions.
When asked what her hopes hold for the 21 program leaders attending the LDP weekend, PPI Cyprus Managing Director, Marina Vasilara responded, “Each of these kids possesses tremendous potential, the sky is the limit, we want them to be empowered to reach beyond limitations and open their minds, to realize they possess the capacity to reach great place.”
4. PeacePlayers’ All Girls Basketball Tournament in Limassol
In December 2012, PPI-CY organized their first ever Limassol basketball tournament for girls. What made this tournament unique was the fact that for the first time in Cyprus youth basketball academies including Zenon (Larnaka) and Apollon (Limassol) scrimmaged against two mixed PeacePlayers teams. PeacePlayers created the two teams by teaming up Turkish-Cypriot players from Lapta (North Cyprus) with Greek-Cypriot players from Kiti and Dali (South Cyprus).
The tournament brought together 60 girls ages 12-16 years old. A fun, friendly and competitive environment allowed our PeacePlayers kids to test their basketball skills against the 2 youth basketball academies. For players on the club teams, this was the first time they had ever played on the court with a mixed team of both Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot players. Anyone at the game could recognize the excitement and uniqueness of this experience, even the parents of the club teams were cheering and supporting their kids as well as the PeacePlayers’ teams.
5. Winter Tournament
In the context of the festivities for the European Commission being awarded the Nobel Prize, PPI-CY in collaboration with the European Commission Representation in Cyprus organized the PeacePlayers Winter Basketball Tournament. The PPI-CY Winter Basketball tournament hosted 130 Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot youth, for 3 on 3 competitions. Also present were 20 volunteers, parents and representatives of the European Commission who in collaboration with the coaches and PPI staff directed a successful tournament.
“I am delighted we support this initiative. Sport is the best way to overcome any dividing lines and to create an environment of cooperation and trust among our youth” said George Markopouliotis, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Cyprus.