On February 15, PeacePlayers-Cyprus International Fellow Ryan Hage was honored at Former Player’s Day at Fordham University. The former Division I Captain was shown on the Jumbotron thanking everyone for their support and a special donation table was set up for PeacePlayers where fans donated over 300 dollars to the organization. Below is the article written on FordhamAthletics.com about Ryan and his work.
On an island that has been has been divided for over 40 years, young Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot children play the game of basketball together and, at the same time, break barriers that have been up for decades. Coach Ryan Hage, GSB’12, is encouraging the kids on the sideline with his usual eccentric demeanor.
Hage is in the middle of a fellowship with PeacePlayers International, a nonprofit organization that brings children together from communities in conflict to play basketball. The organization was founded on the belief that children who can play together can live together. The country of Cyprus broke out in a civil war in 1974 that divided the island and over the years the tension of meeting the “other side” has grown. PeacePlayers gives the kids an opportunity to finally interact with that other side of the island.
After making the team as a walk his freshman year at Fordham, Hage was given a full scholarship and named team captain his senior year. He graduated in 2012 with a degree in Finance and worked for Citibank for 18 months before realizing that something was missing. He heard about PPI and decided to make a big change. “I was 22 and making great money and living in the greatest city in the world but still felt like something was missing. I learned about PeacePlayers and how I could help others through the sport of basketball and knew this is what I have to do.”
As an American fellow, Hage serves as a mentor and role model while sharing his basketball expertise. His father, Charlie, was a basketball coach for over 40 years so coaching is in the bloodline. He has two teams and also helps organize and implement major events that bring both communities together like tournaments, leadership retreats, and a summer camp. Also, he uses that Finance degree as the Head of Finance for the organization.
“I have the greatest job in the world.” says Hage. “I have seen firsthand how basketball can change perceptions and create friendships. The work that PeacePlayers accomplishes in Cyprus and around the world is amazing. Two kids may not speak the same language, but basketball is the only thing they need to start the process of becoming lifelong friends.”
Hage credits Fordham for instilling a sense of giving back after seeing how much the basketball team gave back to the Bronx in his four years there. From clinics for disadvantaged youth to giving presents to sick children at St. Barnabas Hospital, it was a top priority of the coaches and university to always make time to help others.