This week we catch up with PeacePlayers-Cyprus’ Stephanie Nicolas as she shares her experiences as a volunteer for The World School Basketball Championships, hosted this past week in Cyprus.
Describe what the World School Basketball Championships are:
The World School Basketball Championships are organized by the International School Sport Federation (ISF) and the ministry of education in each participating country. ISF organizes international competitions in different sporting disciplines and encourages contests between school students with a view to promote better mutual understanding. It seeks close collaboration with the school authorities of member countries, with the international sporting federations concerned, and with international organizations having similar aims.
The World School Basketball Championship, held this past week, hosted teams from 28 different countries from across the world. The teams came together to compete in the game of basketball and create friendships with youth from across the world.
The organizing body of The World School Basketball Championships, the ISF, finds its values in its commitment to the school and its pedagogical framework. Promoting the understanding between the young people of today who will be the leaders of tomorrow. Each ISF organized project highlights cultural and social connections between the participants.
How and why did you become a volunteer?
I read somewhere that the World School Basketball Championships were going to take place in Cyprus from March 28th – April 4th in Ayia Napa and I asked my PE teacher from school, who I still keep in touch with, to get me involved in this event, and that’s how everything started. I wanted to volunteer in this event for several reasons, one being that it involves basketball, a sport I love. Also, I wanted to see the different levels of basketball from schools across the world and of course to make new friendships and learn about different cultures.
Share briefly your own experiences as a Volunteer:
It was an amazing experience, I watched around 2-3 basketball games a day and learned a lot about the organizational aspects of such a large scale event and what it takes to make it successful. Working with different countries and getting to know their culture was something different and great at the same time, and during the cultural event that was hosted, we learned more about the kids schools and culture. The cultural shows that stood out to the most to me were a traditional dance from the team from India and a black light show put on by the team from Germany.
What was the highlight of the week for you?
Everything was amazing during that week, the level of basketball was fantastic, something that we are missing a lot here in Cyprus and I saw the opportunities that other countries offer to their athletes. The finals were great! The girls final was between a school from Turkey and a school from Serbia, and the boys final between a school from Turkey and a school from Slovenia. The girls had an easy final game, but the boys final was like watching a mini NBA final happening. At the end, both Turkish schools won and they showed a great level of basketball during the finals and of course during the entire week of the event.
However, I cannot forget the team I was with the entire week, the lovely Denmark. The teams were fantastic, both boys and girls teams came from the same school (EVN – Efterskolen in Nyborg) and had a great level of basketball. The kids were fantastic and showed a great attitude during their stay in Cyprus and from what I saw they enjoyed it a lot. I would also like to mention their coaches, Geof, Karen, Bob, Keld and their head of delegation, Karin. They were great and I had a fantastic time with them and getting to know them, hopefully I will be able to see them soon.
What connection do you see between the World School Basketball Championships and PeacePlayers?
ISF and PeacePlayers have the same goals as organizations. They aim, through sport, to educate children and promote mutual understanding. In addition, both organizations bring children together from across the globe and create opportunities for them to learn about different cultures, countries, and of course improve their knowledge of the sport they love.
Why was this experience valuable for you personally and professionally in your work with PPI?
This experience was fantastic. I gained a lot of knowledge on how to make an event like this one successful and promote education through sport. Professionally, it created a lot of future connections with different countries across the globe that can help PeacePlayers and the participants of PPI to develop as an organization and individually. Furthering the connection with some of the schools that took part in this event will be fantastic for the future of PeacePlayers.