Today’s blog is brought to you by PPI-CY Managing Director, Jale Canlibalik, who recently helped organize a bi-communal football match to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the World War I Christmas Truce. She recounts the event and why it was so important to the island.
On 22nd December 2014, the British High Commission in Cyprus with the support of PeacePlayers International-Cyprus commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the World War I Christmas Truce. The Christmas Truce, so named because of the spontaneous ceasefire on the Western Front between the divided troops who came together on Christmas Day to talk and play football, is a reminder that sport can bring people together even during the most difficult of times, an ethos that is echoed by PeacePlayers internationally.
The idea was to host a football match with an internationally represented team against a bi-communal Cypriot team within the United Nations Buffer Zone in Nicosia. PPI-CY had the task of bringing together a bi-communal football team, a feat that not even the two Football Federations in Cyprus have been able to achieve, to play against a team composed of United Nations representatives. As part of the bi-communal Cyprus team we were joined by Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots as well as the two chief peace negotiators for the island Mr. Andreas Mavroyiannis and Mr. Ergün Olgun.
The day’s proceedings were launched with a speech by the British High Commissioner Mr. Ric Todd who emphasized the importance of the meaning in commemorating the Christmas Truce and in continuing to support reconciliation efforts. A minute’s silence was held in respect of those that died during their service to their country and for those that continue to suffer from conflicts. The event was supported by many key actors, representatives and civil society organizations as well as the local media.
The Cypriot team wore their PeacePlayers t-shirts proudly and supported not only the spirit of the Christmas Truce but also the spirit of PeacePlayers as they played hard against their opponents. As PPI-CY, we were proud to be able to support such an event; and continue to promote the work we do and the message of how sport can open up dialogue and contribute positively to reconciliation efforts. We thank the British High Commission for providing us with such an amazing opportunity to help commemorate such a historic event that evokes our own core vision. We also thank our amazing Cypriot players for their commitment in supporting PeacePlayers and being part of the very first bi-communal Cypriot football team since the divide of the island in 1974.
For those that are wondering our Cypriot team lost by 5:2…