Use sport to unite children in divided communities

May 19, 2014

PeacePlayers International Report - May 2014

Members of the Jerusalem All Star Team
Members of the Jerusalem All Star Team
PeacePlayers International-Cyprus: Spring Basketball Tournament Unites Children
On May 3rd, PPI – Cyprus held its spring basketball tournament for over 150 children. Kids from 8 to 17 years old competed during the day on mixed teams with participants from both the Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot communities, while parents and family members cheered from the sidelines. United States Ambassador, John Koenig, tweeted live from the event.
PeacePlayers International-Middle East: PPI Jerusalem All Stars Win Championship
On May 1, PPI's Under 18 Girls Team made history by winning the Israeli National League Championship for the Southern Division on a last second shot. Our team, comprised of Palestinians and Israelis, is the first ever mixed group from Jerusalem to compete in the National League. ESPN’s Chad Ford tweeted live from the game. You can watch the thrilling final seventeen seconds of the game here:
PeacePlayers International-Northern Ireland: Junior Champions 4 Peace - Developing Leaders
The Champions 4 Peace-Juniors (C4P-Jrs) program continues to thrive, growing in number and gaining representatives from all areas of Belfast. Earlier this year, participants were invited by ESPY winner Dave Cullen to attend a game in Andersonstown between the New York City Jaguars and the Ulster Elks. Prior to the game, C4P-Jrs took part in a Leadership Training class where they learned effective leadership skills and played games where each participant's leadership style shone through. They then took their seats courtside where players from the NYC Jaguars handed the C4P-Jrs t-shirts during their warm-ups. The C4P-Jrs cheered on both teams throughout the nail-biting game, and afterwards, the Jaguars took time to take pictures and sign autographs for their newest fans.
PeacePlayers International-South Africa: SA is Underway!
Twenty-nine PPI-South Africa teams registered to participate in the Primary School Programme (PSP) which began earlier this year. PSP focuses on teaching its participants basketball fundamentals as well as character-building traits such as self-confidence, self-discipline, and goal-setting. The Leadership Development Programme (LDP) for high school students also re-launched with this season. LDP encourages its participants to set a positive example for their communities and to lead healthy lives.
Ethiopia: PPI Helps Create Soccer League for Orphans
In April, PPI traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the second time in 6 months to train 23 Ethiopian coaches from World Wide Orphans to become positive youth coaches and mentors. PPI and WWO developed a youth soccer league for over 400 kids focused on working with orphans and vulnerable children. Moving forward the program will continue to grow with the long-term goal of an All-Star team that could play and compete in the local youth soccer league. 
Portland, Oregon: Peace and Respect on the Court 
From January through March, PPI and AC Portland launched a youth basketball league based on PPI’s Anatomy of Peace methodology and the Portland Trail Blazers award winning anti-bullying Respect Campaign. Trainings were held for boys and girls at Cesar Chavez and Oliver Elementary, with a three-year expansion plan to grow into a network of 16 teams.  “This is a significant moment for AC Portland. Typically our students participate in soccer for 10 weeks in the fall and 10 weeks in the spring…Having a basketball program will allow our students to remain active for 30 weeks a year,” said AC Portland’s Executive Director, Ben Dudley. In July, PPI’s Organizational Learning Specialist, Gunnar Hagstrom, will educate local Program Coordinators on how to train their coaches in the Anatomy of Peace, with an additional follow up training in November.
JC4P-Jrs with NYC Jaguars
JC4P-Jrs with NYC Jaguars
Spring Basketball Tournament in Cyprus
Spring Basketball Tournament in Cyprus
Half-time during a South Africa LDP game
Half-time during a South Africa LDP game


Feb 18, 2014

PeacePlayers International Report - February 2014

PeacePlayers International-Cyprus: Seeds For Success Seminar

All PPI-CY participants ages 15 and above were invited to the first Seeds for Success seminar of 2014, which focused on the holistic development of our players. The seminar is part of a series of year-round events organized for the Leadership Development Program (LDP).

The aim of the seminar ‘Seeds for Success’ is to give the PPI participants the opportunity to familiarize themselves with some of the most important tools they need in order to achieve inner peace and success in all their endeavors. Some of these are: self-respect, self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-belief, self-confidence, self-reliance, self-realization.

PeacePlayers International-Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland Belfast Games

PPI-Northern Ireland hosted over 100 Catholic and Protestant children to participate in the Belfast Interface Games at Seaview Stadium. Organized in partnership with Ulster Rugby, Ulster GAA, and the Irish FA, the games allow 9 to 13 year olds to participate in the country’s three major sports: rugby, soccer, and Gaelic football. 

Belfast’s Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said: “I applaud everyone involved with this project and congratulate them for their efforts and achievements in bringing our young people together. Sport is a great way to encourage teamwork and help forge friendships which will hopefully last for a lifetime.”

PeacePlayers International-Middle East: Abe and Irene Pollen Winter Happening 2013

In early January, staff and young leaders from PPI - ME led Palestinian and Jewish Israeli elementary school children through different activities including basketball drills and art projects at the annual Abe and Irene Pollin Winter Happening.

PPI - ME Operations Manager Heni Bizawi said: "The Leadership Development Program were excellent at the Winter Happening. They are the best role models for these younger kids of how the Palestinians and the Israelis can work together, play together, and be friends."

PeacePlayers International South Africa: 22nd Annual City-Wide Tournament

PPI - South Africa held its 22nd semiannual CityWide Tournament at Hoy Park. With 18 teams from 5 different communities in attendance, the tournament required 4 basketball courts operating simultaneously. South Africa pro basketball team, the KZN Marlins, which has two former PPI-SA participants, spent the day shooting baskets with kids and helping coach on the sidelines. It was great having the Marlins players connect with the kids and promote the sport and new pro league, since basketball opportunities beyond PeacePlayers have been slim.


Nov 19, 2013

PeacePlayers International November 2013

PeacePlayers International-Cyprus: NBA and WNBA Stars Volunteer at Peace Camp

In August, 64 Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot youth spent 6 days and nights living together, playing basketball, and building new friendships at the PeacePlayers Basketball Camp. Former NBA player and Brooklyn Nets Assistant Coach, Doug Overton, and WNBA champion and beach volleyball star, Kelly Schumacher, volunteered as guest coaches! A young female camper commented, “We came here knowing little of each other and we have in these few days gained tremendous experiences, new friendships and a strong belief we can make things happen!”

PeacePlayers International-Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland Belfast Games

PPI-Northern Ireland hosted over 100 Catholic and Protestant children to participate in the Belfast Interface Games at Seaview Stadium. Organized in partnership with Ulster Rugby, Ulster GAA, and the Irish FA, the games allow 9 to 13 year olds to participate in the country’s three major sports: rugby, soccer, and Gaelic football. 

Belfast’s Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said: “I applaud everyone involved with this project and congratulate them for their efforts and achievements in bringing our young people together. Sport is a great way to encourage teamwork and help forge friendships which will hopefully last for a lifetime.”

PeacePlayers International-Middle East: Peace Education Retreat

40 Palestinian and Israeli youth kicked off their summer at PPI's Peace Education Retreat in Sdot Yam, our traditional retreat spot, right on the Caesaria Beach. The retreat hosted teams from East and West Jerusalem, Hadera, Usafiya, and Jiser Al’Zarka. Our goal was to create a fun, open and welcoming environment for all children to mingle, learn about each other’s culture, and enjoy their first days of summer break.

In addition to basketball and art, participants helped PPI–ME complete the final stage of its research which examines the impact of PPI-ME’s programs on a variety of variables, such as prejudice reduction, friendship formation, self-esteem and leadership. The pilot study was led by independent evaluators from Yale and New York University. We are very eager to see the results of this year's research !

PeacePlayers International South Africa: 22nd Annual City-Wide Tournament

PPI – SA is currently working with 6th and 7th grade students in Durban and its surrounding areas, including Durban City, Umlazi, Lamontville, Wentworth, and Waterloo. Twice a year, PPI-SA brings together all of its participants from these underprivileged communities to participate in a cross community education day where the emphasis is on social integration and fun instead of just winning. This year, the Sport For Social Change Network (SSCN), a program that supports dynamic organizations involved in using sport as a tool to create social change, has teamed up with PPI-SA to make this event possible. PPI-SA is incredibly excited to be hosting our 22nd Annual CityWide Tournament and we encourage all supporters of PPI-SA to join us for a day of bridging divides, developing leaders, and changing perceptions!


Jul 18, 2013

PeacePlayers International Report April - June

Many exciting events have been happening at PPI!

PeacePlayers International - Cyprus Sends First Bi-Communal Boys’ Basketball Team to Norwegian Tournament

In May, just seven weeks after forming Cyprus’ first ever bi-communal boys’ basketball team, PeacePlayers International - Cyprus sent the 12 teenage boys and their coaches to Norway, where they competed for the Hansa Cup, the most prestigious tournament in Norway. The team stayed with members of the Nesodden Basketball Team, developing relationships with their host families that demonstrated how sports could overcome social barriers like language, nationality, and culture. The boys gave a presentation to two high school classes in Nesodden about how PeacePlayers is using basketball to bridge divides in areas of conflict and had the honor of participating in a show with the Harlem Globetrotters. Despite the tough competition, the team won its first two games, making it all the way to the finals, where they took second place. This marked the first time ever that a competitive team comprised of both Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots competed in an official international tournament. 

PeacePlayers International - Northern Ireland holds Annual Spring Jam Tournament in Belfast 

In June, 80 PeacePlayers International - Northern Ireland participants competed in an afternoon of basketball matches at PPI-NI’s Spring Jam Tournament. The goal of Spring Jam each year is to bring children together from Belfast’s divided communities to form one united team of kids from the entire city. Special guests included Tom and Phyllis Etzel from the Global Peace Foundation and Bill Fenlon, DePauw University Head Men’s Basketball Coach. Many prizes and awards, such as the Hustle and Spirit Award and the Champion4Peace Award were distributed to commemorate another successful Spring Jam and PPI-NI’s continued work to bridge divides in Belfast. 

PPI-SA Ushers in Winter with City Extravaganza 

In June, before the winter holiday period, PPI-SA held one last finale in Durban. The City Extravaganza event involved all four of PPI’s city schools (Glenmore, Carrington, Berea, Durban Primary) along with former PPI powerhouse, Addington Primary. In addition to awarding teams for their performance in games and competitions, points were given out for the teams that showed the best support for their teammates, creating an electric atmosphere throughout the event. Individual honors went to the player on each team who displayed the best sportsmanship, effort, and attitude. These players were dubbed “Champions for Peace” for the day. The competition was a fantastic way to end another great term for PPI-SA. 

New Jewish and Arab teams play together at PPI-ME 

In May, PeacePlayers Middle East celebrated the start of two new teams from Maiser (an Arab community) and Katsir (a Jewish community) with a unique twinning. At twinnings, boys and girls from typically segregated communities come together to play basketball in order to learn, play and make new friends. Five Leadership Development Program (LDP) participants helped coach the twinning, giving our older participants a chance to improve their leadership skills and make a positive impact on the next generation. The day was a huge sucess and another example of progress that can be made when we come together and open ourselves up to new people and new experiences.

PPI-ME celebrates a successful twinning
PPI-ME celebrates a successful twinning
PPI-CY's first bi-communal boys' basketball team


Apr 17, 2013

PeacePlayers International Report Jan - March 2013

2013 has gotten off to a terrific start for PeacePlayers International.


PeacePlayers - Cyprus Gets Animated!


PPI-Cyprus has gotten animated! In collaboration with the Cyprus Community Media Center, the animation team at Ze'dem Media and with funding from USAID, PPI - Cyprus has completed 3 videos that explain how sport is an important tool for peace-building and youth development. The videos will be used in all of PPI’s sites and with youth development organizations worldwide to continue to help children play and live together.


Laureus Sport for Good Foundation recognizes PPI - South Africa's Excellent Coaches


Out of the 36 young leaders selected for the Laureus Sport for Good's YES (Youth Empowerment through Sport) program, 9 of them are current coaches for PPI-SA. That’s 25% of this year’s YES participants, and over 50% of the coaches on staff. PPI –SA is producing well-rounded and successful coaches that can take what they have learned at PPI-SA into the greater sport for development community in South Africa.


PPI - Middle East Continues to Hold Successful Twinnings


 In February, PeacePlayers Middle East pulled off another set of successful twinnings with two teams of teenage girls, one comprised of Israeli girls from Beit Shemesh, and the other comprising of Palestinians from Hand-in-Hand School in Jerusalem. In the first twinning, the girls started off with some fun, team building basketball drills, and ended the event with an Anatomy of Peace curriculum workshop led by facilitator Nissreen Najjar.


PPI - Northern Ireland Bridges Divides with New Twinnings


 Through partnerships with local city councils, PPI – NI is working on new twinnings with St Luke’s and Belvoir Park Primary Schools in Belfast. St Luke’s Primary School is situated in the Nationalist area of Twinbrook, while Belvoir Park Primary School is situated in the Loyalist area of Belvoir Estate. The children have been delving further into the community-relations aspect of the program and have been discussing their identity, prejudice and stereotypes. Despite the history, hopefully PeacePlayers can serve as an avenue for new friendships. 

PPI - Cyprus Gets Animated!
PPI - Cyprus Gets Animated!
PPI - Middle East Holds Successful Twinnings
PPI - Middle East Holds Successful Twinnings
PPI - NI Holds New Twinnings
PPI - NI Holds New Twinnings


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Project Leader

Adam Hirsch

Development and Communications Associate
Washington, DC United States

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Map of Use sport to unite children in divided communities