TC Coordinator Orhun Mevlit and Managing Director Marina Vasilara address over 100 kids at the English School in Nicosia.
A new year for PeacePlayers International – Cyprus means new programs, new grants, and, most importantly, new young people. PPI-CY started off the year on very good terms. On Tuesday, January 12, Greek Cypriot Coordinator Marios Argyrou, Turkish Cypriot Coordinator Orhun Mevlit, Managing Director Marina Vasilara, and Program Director Rory O’Neil held an assembly to introduce new basketball teams at the English School in Nicosia to over 100 boys and girls, ages 12-14. Every student in attendance watched the 2007 ESPY Awards ceremony that honored PeacePlayers International’s work in Northern Ireland.
(From R-L) Marina, Orhun, and Marios chat with the English School Headmaster, Deborah Duncan after the school assembly. She looks pretty impressed!
The English School, one of Cyprus’ oldest and most accredited high schools, is one of the few high schools on the island open to both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. PPI-CY is forming two new Junior Varsity teams (boys and girls) that will start practicing next week and become an integral part of the school’s massive after-school activities program. We knew that we were in the right place when during registration yesterday, the boys demanded that we start practicing as soon as possible. They had a choice: start next week inside the gymnasium, or start Friday (today) outside in possibly gloomy weather. Practice starts today at 1pm local time.
Also this past week, PPI-CY secured a $15,000 grant from the U.S. Embassy here in Cyprus. The grant involves two twinnings for each PPI-CY team, and an island-wide tournament which will take place in March or April. This is the 2nd year in a row that PPI-CY has secured funding from the U.S. Embassy and is extremely happy and excited to be working with the Embassy again this year. Last year’s Embassy project was one of the most successful projects for PPI-CY.
Some of the team in Northern Ireland. Are they ready to square off againt PPI - CY?
Also, all of PPI-CY’s coaches will travel together to Northern Ireland for a 5-day immersion trip in conjunction with the E.U.’s People-2-People Youth Exchanges II project which aims to “bring the Turkish-Cypriot community closer to the European Union.” PPI-Northern Ireland has graciously accepted to play the role of host to the traveling group. Activities on the docket include a day-long conflict resolution training with PPI-NI’s one and only Tony Macaulay, tours of Belfast, team-building excercises and excursions to witness PPI-NI’s twinning program. There is event talk of a possible PPI-NI vs. PPI-CY coaches’ basketball game to finally settle the centuries-old debate: who is better at basketball, Cyprus or Northern Ireland?
Cafer at a PPI-CY event in Lapta back in 2006.
In addition to new teams and new grants, PPI-CY is also welcoming two new coaches to our staff. Cafer Muhtaroglu will coach a Turkish-Cypriot team of boys in North Nicosia, and Fatma Cambazoglu will step in for Zalihe Yucel in coaching the Lapta girls’ team. Zalihe has just gone on maternity leave and will take a “holiday” from coaching for a few months. Some of you might remember Cafer. At one time, he was the Turkish-Cypriot Coordinator for PPI-CY during it’s start-up period in Cyprus. He now returns to coaching by bringing a team of 11-12 year old boys into the PPI realm for their first time. Welcome Fatma, and welcome back Cafer!
2010 has certainly started off as an exciting and very promising year for PPI-CY. Around the world, a number of nonprofits are having a tough time financially, and an even more difficult time achieving some stability during a very unstable time. PPI-CY is truly blessed to be able to increase, rather than decrease the number of participants that are exposed to our program, as well as add new coaches, new programs, implement new grants, and offer amazing training programs and experiences for its coaches and staff members. This is a testament to the power of PeacePlayers International’s message – that even a global financial crisis cannot stop the freight-train of a movement that is PeacePlayers International.
It's going to be a great 2010 for PPI - CY!