PPI’s Jerusalem All-Stars Win First Championship Title - Invited to Play at White House with National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
In 2014, PPI – ME’s Under-18 Girls Team made history by winning the Israeli National League Championship for the Southern Division on a last second shot. The team, comprised of Palestinians and Israelis, is the first ever mixed group from Jerusalem to compete in the National League. The girls have been playing together for five years, overcoming challenges on and off the court to become successful teammates and close friends. In October, National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, hosted the team for a game at the White House basketball court. After playing together, Ambassador Rice spoke with our players to learn about their achievements from the past year. The youth were in Washington, DC as part of the State Department sports diplomacy program.
PPI - SPIN Launches New Soccer League for Orphans in Ethiopia
In the past decade, hundreds of thousands have migrated from rural villages to the capital city of Addis Ababa in search of a better living. This has added to the city’s existing burden of unemployment, poverty, and prostitution, creating an epidemic of children living in the streets. In 2014, PPI - SPIN partnered with Worldwide Orphans (WWO) to launch a youth soccer league with for over 400 vulnerable children from a network of ten orphan-serving organizations. The league is providing participants with tangible life skills education and an avenue for integration into society. One WWO coach said, "I learned from the PPI training these children need us more than as a coach. I will be a role model for them and I believe they can have a bright future with my support." PPI and WWO plan to expand the league to a total of 14 community teams serving over 560 children.
USA Vice President Joe Biden - Former NBA and WNBA Stars Visit PPI - Cyprus
In March, 2014, USA Vice President Joe Biden traveled to to Cyprus to push energy cooperation between the divided communities. During the visit, Vice President Biden met with local civil society leaders, including PPI - CY’s Managing Director, Jale Canlibalik. At the event, Vice President Biden said, “PeacePlayers is doing great work. You are the hope for the future.” Following the visit, PPI - CY held its annual Peace and Basketball Summer Camp, which brought 64 Greek- and Cypriot youth from both sides of the divided island together for a week of basketball and peace education. The camp featured three VIP guest coaches from the USA: Former NBA sharpshooter and current Director of Strategic Planning for the Detroit Pistons, Patrick Garrity, former WNBA player and current Stanford Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach, Evan Unrau, and former Stanford Point Guard, Robbie Lemons. Following the camp, Garrity wrote, “I worked with a group of Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot coaches whose love for the game was outmatched only by their talent in teaching and mentoring teenagers.”
City Wide Tournaments in South Africa
South Africa continues to be burdened by the impact of HIV/AIDS, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, crime and strong cultural divides. Since 2001, PPI - SA has served more than 27,000 children from some of the most underprivileged neighborhoods around Durban. In 2014, PPI - SA hosted two City Wide Basketball Tournaments - Durban’s largest ongoing youth basketball event. Over 500 local youth from rural and urban communities around Durban came together to play sports, have fun, and promote ethnic and social integration.
Northern Ireland’s Champions4Peace
Despite the existence of a formal peace agreement between Catholics and Protestants since 1998, less than 5% of educational bodies in Northern Ireland are integrated. In 2014, PPI - NI provided sport and conflict resolution programming to over 2,000 children living in eight of Northern Ireland’s most disadvantaged communities. In addition, PPI - NI launched a new Champions4Peace program that is providing veteran participants additional leadership training and the opportunity to plan and implement their own community building initiatives.
Sport Facilitation Training in Sweden
In 2014, PPI - SPIN partnered with the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) to lead an 11 day Sport for Development Camp for 30 young leaders from Francophone Africa and the Middle East. The theme of PPI’s facilitation was Sport and Conflict Transformation. Through a highly interactive session both in the classroom and on the basketball court, participants developed a greater understanding of conflict and reconciliation as well as practical tools to use sport as a means to break through cycles of conflict.
PeacePlayers International-Cyprus: NBA Legend Pat Garrity Coaches at PPI-Cyprus Summer Camp
NBA legend Pat Garrity, former WNBA player Evan Unrau, and Stanford University player Robbie Hummel visited PPI-Cyprus's Summer Camp, which brought 64 Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot children together to play basketball and build friendships. The former players led participants in basketball drills and 5-on-5 games, as well as observed training sessions aimed at teaching leadership, tolerance, and cooperation. The players lauded the program as an example of the power of play in building bridges between communities.
PeacePlayers International-Middle East: Youth Leaders Visit United States through State Department Exchange
On October 6, 2014, 30 Israeli and Palestinian Youth Basketball coaches from the Middle East visited the United States for a two-week cultural exchange supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. The exchange aimed to build reconciliation and understanding between the two communities. Participants engaged in numerous workshops, training sessions, and even had the privilege of meeting and playing with Ambassador Susan Rice on the White House basketball court. The exchange epitomizes the strong connection between the role of sports in conflict resolution and U.S. foriegn policy goals.
PeacePlayers International-Northern Ireland: PPI-NI Reaches Milestone with 32 Twinnings
In the past academic year, PPI-Northern Ireland achieved the milestone of 32 Twinnings between Catholic and Protestant students as part of its program to train and bring together children from both sides of historical conflicts. Through these Twinnings, PPI-Northern Ireland worked with over 2400 children from Belfast, Bellymana, Bangor and Lurgan at a small cost of £100 per participant. This accomplishment indicates that PPI-Northern Ireland is a proven and committed organization to alleviating the divisions between the different peoples of Northern Ireland.
PeacePlayers International-South Africa: 24th City Wide Tournament
Two new teams, one from NBA Africa and another from CAST, join over 350 participants comprising six teams at PPI-SA's 24th City Wide Tournament in Durban this November. The City-Wide Tournament emphasized integration between the different communities of players, affirming PeacePlayers' commitment to building cross-cultural friendships and peace.
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.
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Development and Communications Associate