Lessons from learning a foreign language

This week’s blog is written by Cyprus Fellow Sean Wright about the PPI-ME exchange trip and his thoughts on learning a foreign language. 

Yesterday, a group of Lead4Peace participants and a few coaches embarked on the PPI-ME exchange trip for the next few days. Just like the summer camp/exchange trip that took place in Cyprus in July, the other sites will be in attendance as well. This gives the Lead4Peace kids the opportunity to experience other cultures, foods and to reconnect with friends they made at camp in Cyprus. Unfortunately, I will not be in attendance as someone has to hold down the fort here, but what I can promise is that in the next few weeks there will be blogs written by some participants and coaches into how amazing their trip was to PPI-ME (I say amazing because there is no way it isn’t).


PPI-CY on their way!

After my graduation from Providence College in 2014, I never thought that I would go back to school. Turns out I was wrong. For the past couple weeks, I have been taking both Greek and Turkish language classes. I wanted to take these because it will help me communicate better with our participants, especially those who have a hard time speaking English. I was lucky enough to have the Home for Cooperation (the building our office is in) offer these classes so all I have to do is walk 10 feet and I’m there. Before the classes began, I pictured myself having full blown conversations in either language almost immediately. Well I was wrong. I expected it to come easy to me, and once again I was wrong. What I’ve realized is how much studying is going to have to take place in order for me to truly grasp a fraction of either language.


A view from the PPI-ME Camp!

I have so much more respect for the the participants in all of our PPI sites around the world. Most of our sites have language barriers that can make it difficult for our coaches to get the teaching points across to the kids. Along with PPI, these kids have broken down these barriers and learned a common language, which in this case is English. Now that I am learning a foreign language, I have a deeper understanding of how much time and effort these kids have put into being able to speak English, and speak it well. I am so proud of these kids!

Meet Jazz, the new PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland Fellow!

My name is Jasmine Bishop, but my friends and family call me “Jazz.” I am from Waterville, Maine and I am the new fellow for PeacePlayers International, Northern Ireland.  I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management and my Masters of Business Administration at Thomas College in Waterville, Maine. While at Thomas College, I was a three-sport athlete where I played Basketball, Field Hockey, and Lacrosse.  My senior year at Thomas, I was named captain of the Women’s Basketball team.


My junior year at Thomas College

This past September, I completed a fellowship with Shooting Touch, and spent a year in the village of Kayonza, Rwanda doing what I love best: coaching basketball and working with the Rwandan youth. It was a truly humbling experience; you never realize how much you appreciate hot water until you don’t have it. While in Rwanda, I coached in three communities –  Kayonza, Gahini, and Rukara, and I even picked up some of the local language, Kinyarwandan, during my time there.  



First year in Rwanda, my Gahini Boys team took the Cup in the Shooting Touch Tourney!

As my time in Rwanda drew to a close, I knew my next adventure had to be basketball-related and involve working with young people. That was when I found PeacePlayers International. Not only was I excited about the chance to continue doing what I love through the sport of basketball, but also to be able to give back to young people! While it was hard to leave the people of Rwanda and family and friends back home, I look forward to meeting and working with as many people in Northern Ireland as I possibly can.

I have been here in Belfast for almost a week now, and what a crazy week it has been! I have even started to drive. At first I was nervous about driving on the left lane since we drive on the right in America, but my first lesson went great and I didn’t hit anything or anyone. :)  Right now I’m doing my best to just absorb all the new information while getting to know the team and of course, the kids. 


Leading a twinning session in Ballymena

For my first weekend here in Northern Ireland, I joined the Junior Champions 4 Peace group for a participant-parent residential. This was such a great experience and I was able to really get to know some of the youth involved with PeacePlayers along with some of their parents. Even though it rained all day Saturday, all of the team building games and activities were a blast. I am so happy and thankful that I was able to experience this on my first weekend in Northern Ireland, and I hope it’s a sign of all the great ones to come.


Jnr Champions4Peace Participant-Parents Residential

Please know that I will put my best foot forward here and make PeacePlayers International proud that they selected me for this opportunity.  I am positive that I will make an impact in the lives of the individuals I am fortunate enough to work with and I am confident that I will learn a lot from them as well.

Sbahle reflects on the 2016 Laureus Summit

This week’s blog by PPI-SA is written by Sbahle Mkhize, the Marketing and Fundraising Manager for PPI-SA. She shares about her recent trip to Germany to participate in the 2016 Laureus Sport for Good Summit. 

A group photo with all the summit attendees.

A group photo with all the summit attendees.

This past week I travelled to Heidelberg, Germany for the Laureus Sport for Good Summit. It was my first global summit and it did not disappoint. The Laureus Summit is held every two years with the primary goal of bringing together all projects/organizations from all over the world that are supported by Laureus.

Day one of the summit started off with a bang. It felt like a mini PeacePlayers reunion as Neta and Duha from PPI-Middle East were there, as well as Gunnar from PPI-DC and Jale from PPI-Cyprus. Another day one highlight was meeting retired WNBA Star & Laureus Ambassador, Tamika Catchings, and in true PPI style, we made sure we took a selfie with the her.

PPI Ladies taking a selfie with retired WNBA star, Tamika Catchings.

PPI Ladies taking a selfie with retired WNBA star, Tamika Catchings.

The summit only went uphill from there, meeting and interacting with representatives from projects around the world. Below I have summarized my experience in Germany in three short highlights:

  1. Meeting likeminded sport for good ambassadors from around the world. It was wonderful to hear more about the different projects/organizations supported by Laureus across the globe. One of my favourite people I met was Yang Qiangzhen, a young phenomenal leader and secretary of the youth league committee in China that promotes state development and world peace.
  1. Laureus made it possible for us to experience Germany by visiting different tourist sites and eating duck for the first time (well in my case), which was weird at first, but delicious overall.
  1. Another highlight for me was the fundraising strategies sessions held for summit attendees. I learned so much about how I can improve and grow as a fundraiser. It was also so refreshing to hear from other people around the world about their challenges and successes when it comes to fundraising. It was also interesting because we discovered how we all face similar challenges in our countries.
PPI family Reunion

PPI family Reunion

Thank you to the Laureus Foundation and the Dietmar Hopp Foundation for a wonderful summit!

Laureus Sport for Good Summit Recap

This week’s blog by PPI-CY is written by Cyprus Managing Director, Jale Canlıbalık, who shares about her recent trip to Germany to participate in the Laureus Sport for Good Summit 2016. 


Having some fun with people from across the world!

I was very fortunate to be invited to attend the Laureus Sport for Good Global Summit in Heidelberg, Germany this month where I got to meet other Laureus supported sports organizations. Laureus is a global sports-based charity that works to improve the lives of young people–a perfect match with PPI. During the summit we were given the opportunity to reflect on our own work and meet with like-minded organizations and share our best practices.


Neta and Duha leading the group

Throughout the summit, I was fortunate enough to meet some really inspirational youth who have overcome their own hardships and barriers to become mentors and exemplary leaders in their own communities. Our own PPI-ME leaders Duha Nemmire and Neta Daniel also took to the stage and talked about how PPI impacted their own lives and how important sport for good organizations are. These two young leaders are so inspiring!

During the three day summit, Laureus also presented their new strategy and vision for the future whilst also looking at the trends for shaping sport for development over the coming years. To say this is an exciting time would be an understatement! We also had the chance to attend different workshops led by expert facilitators in the fields of fundraising, strategy development, leadership development and gender. 


PPI Family

However it wasn’t all theory; we were also taken to the local football pitch to see practical skills some organizations use for their own communities.  Here PPI-SA representatives Nasiphi Khafu and Sbahle Mikhize facilitated a session on the court and engaged with the attendees on the topic of teamwork while showing practical skills to illustrate the importance of communication and collaboration.

In total 180 people from 35 different countries came together as well as Laureus Ambassador recently retired WNBA star Tamika Catchings. The Laureus Sport for Good Summit 2016 was held in partnership with the Dietmar Hopp Foundation, a charitable foundation dedicated to the developments of projects in sport, education, social affairs and medicine. We are so thankful for everything the Laureus has done to help us here at PPI-CY, and we look forward to many more years of success with them!



Starting the year off right in Jerusalem!

Today’s blog from PPI-ME is written by coach and field coordinator, Jess Reiser.


Kids in the Arab community of Ein Rafah get excited at practice

The school year in Jerusalem started about six weeks ago, and we are deep in the swing of things at Peace Players International – Middle East. Because of the Jewish holiday season, our joint activities are set to start at the end of October. We have been using this time to get the year off to a good start with high-impact mono-communal programming for Palestinians and Israelis in their own communities, helping them learn basketball fundamentals and preparing them for joint activities with their twinned team from the “other side.” It’s been a busy and fun beginning with so many different teams and I love being able to work with different kids and coaches every day. It’s been a really great learning experience so far.


Kids from Keshet school in Jewish west Jerusalem work on some ball-handling drills

Because many of the kids are new to basketball and Peace Players, each practice we have been emphasizing basketball fundamentals while making sure the kids are having fun. We are focusing on listening skills with fun games and exercises. My favorite game has been “red light, green light,” which I really loved growing up. In “red light, green light,” a person in the middle calls out “red,” “yellow,” or “green.” Each color has a command: stop, go slow, or run, respectively, and whoever gets to the other side of the court first, wins. With this game, they learn that they have to listen closely in order to win. The kids love it, and I also enjoy yelling out the colors.

Focusing on basics and fundamentals, we’ve started out with mostly dribbling and passing drills to get the kids more comfortable with a basketball in their hands. It’s amazing how much improvement you can see in just six weeks and how excited the kids are to learn. At this point, they are requesting to do dribbling and passing drills!

We end many practices with a fun shooting game. The kids always love to shoot around, especially when it involves some sort of competition. My favorite is when we split the kids up into teams and each time someone scores a basket, they run and grab a cone from the center of the court until all the cones are gone. Whoever has the most cones, wins. They end up cheering for each other and it’s always a good time.

This first month and a half definitely has great momentum going for this year! I love waking up every day and being excited about all the practices that are coming up in the day. The kids are great and learning every day. I’m so excited to get our twinnings going and to see what these kids can really do when Palestinians and Israelis come together as a team!

Building on Success: what can PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland be in the future?

This week’s blog is written by PPI-NI’s Managing Director, Gareth Harper. 

On September 29th, PPI-NI held its 13th Annual General Meeting. Along with the usual business of an AGM (Chairs report, auditors report and appointment of officers), PPI-NI board members initiated a strategic conversation about the future direction of the work of PeacePlayers in Northern Ireland.


Over the last 14 years PPI-NI has established its reputation as the go-to organisation for community relations and peace building through sport work in Northern Ireland. From this solid foundation, Board members have tasked themselves with thinking about where they want PPI-NI to be in the future and with developing a strategy that will get us there.




During FY15/16, PPI-NI identified and monitored progress against a total of 72 core programmatic indicators. Some headline results from FY15/16:

  • 79% (57/72) of the indicator targets identified have been achieved or over-achieved
  • 3% (2/72) of the indicator targets are still in progress
  • Only 18% (13/72) of the indicator targets were not met

PPI-NI worked with 1,851 children and young people and provided sustained and regular opportunities for contact and community relations through sport conversation and capacity building. A total of 146 participants took Open College Network (OCN) accredited courses, with 84% achieving a pass result.


PPI-NI’s findings when it surveyed 139 participants in November 2015:

  • 95% reported that they enjoy taking part in PPI-NI with people who are from different religious backgrounds
  • 91% reported that PPI-NI has given them a chance they would not have otherwise to interact with people from a different religious background
  • 90% of youth (BIL participants and PPI-NI coaches) reported that they feel comfortable to be a leader in their community.

We are very proud of what we have achieved and we are excited for the future. The core challenge is now considering how we can leverage the great work the organisation is doing and the reputation it is building to deliver increased community and institutional level impact. We also need to consider what resources we will need in realizing these aspirations.

Over the coming weeks and months, the Board will be working closely with the staff team and with our participants to consider the following questions:

  • How should PPI-NI define community level impact?
  • What are the major institutional barriers to peace building in NI?
  • Among the barriers identified, what areas does PPI-NI have the ability to positively influence? Where is PPI-NI best positioned to focus?
  • What potential partner organisations could be helpful to PPI-NI in achieving its community impact goals?


We would love to hear your thoughts on these big picture questions. In the spirit of co-design, we wish to elicit the views of as many of our stakeholders as possible. So please share your ideas, thoughts and questions by leaving a comment on this blog. You can also PM us on Facebook or drop us an email northernireland@peaceplayersintl.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

PPI-SA Term 3 Ends

LDP Participant during the 26th City Wide Tournament.

LDP Participant during the 26th City Wide Tournament.

September 30 was the end of term 3 at PPI-SA. As schools prepare to go on break, the PPI-SA staff is planning the upcoming 27th City Wide Tournament. As many will know, the City Wide in June was cancelled due to the weather. However, the team at PPI-SA decided to host a bigger, better 27th City Wide Tournament in October. Preparations for the tournament are already in full swing. With the Culture Care Kids First Foundation coming on board to be a major funder for the tournament alongside the Laureus SA Foundation, it promises to be a bigger and better tournament.

Here are some highlights from term 3:

  • Six PPI-SA participants and coordinators travelling to Cyprus for the PPI Lead for Peace Summer Camp.
  • The Champions for Peace LDP Girls team travelled to Pietermaritzburg for the Annual Pietermaritzburg Girls High Invitational Tournament for the first time in PPI-SA history.
  • Coach Yamkela & Sno travelled to Cape Town to facilitate basketball clinics in partnership with Beyond Sport. PPI-SA is excited for this partnership and any future projects with Beyond Sport.
  • PPI-SA Veteran Coach Sifiso, travelled to Turkey to coach and facilitate at the Jump Basketball Camp.
  • PPI-SA coaches have worked tirelessly all term to ensure the sessions in schools take place. Themes that were covered this term were:
    • Teambuilding
    • Check on goals
    • My community
    • Inclusion and Trust
    • Peer Influence and Positive peer pressure
    PSP Participants from Cwebezela Primary School.

    PSP Participants from Cwebezela Primary School.

    Thank you to all the coaches, schools and participants for a wonderful term. We look forward to term 4 and the 27th City Wide Tournament!