Use sport to unite children in divided communities

by PeacePlayers International
Cultural Exchange participants in NYC
Cultural Exchange participants in NYC

Cultural Exchange Supported by SportsUnited

In March 2016, 30 of PeacePlayers International's Palestinian and Israeli youth participants visited the United States for a cultural exchange supported by the United States Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affaris.  The participants were able to visit New York City, NY, Philadelphia, PA, and Washington, DC.  The trip was the first time some of the Palestinian and Israeli youth had spent a consecutive amount of time with one another as one large group.  Gur, and Israeli PeacePlayers from West Jerusalem, had this to say about it: "The trip was like being with your best friends for two weeks. The best part was learning about our different cultures and joking around with each other the entire time!" 


South Africa seeing big success with new Monitoring and Evaluation Strategies

PeacePlayers International's South Africa program has been working closely with Director of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), Julie Youes, in the Washington, DC International headquarters in order to identify key activities and improve on data collection.  In just one term of using the new focus on M&E, PPI-SA has been able to get coaches more involved, and have engaged with 250 Primary School participants, 120 Leadership Development participants, resulting in a total of 370 program participants. 


Northern Ireland PeacePlayers Have a Camp Reunion 

Over the summer, PeacePlayers International - Norther Ireland, was able to host camps funded by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister's Together: Building a United Community strategy.  In February, 26 PPI-NI participants were able to attend a T:BUC Summer Camp Reunion in Belfast.  The reunion helped to reinforce the positive experiences had by all over the summer.  Reunion participants were given special tours and heard from local professional athletes who spoke of facing diversity in sport.  With the day ending with the good news that funding will be available to host camps again in Summer 2016.


Peace and Wellness Promotion in Cyprus

PeacePlayers International - Cyprus has launched a series of informative healthy nutrition seminars in conjunction of their European Union-funded project called "Promoting Peace and Wellness in Cyprus".  Focuses of the series include preventing childhood obesity, the importance of breakfast, and incorporating ideas for carefully replacing the habits of eating fast food with slow foor production and consumpion.  The seminars began in January 2016 are presented by experienced Clinical Dieticians and will run through the end of May 2016. 

PPI-SA coaches importing new M&E data
PPI-SA coaches importing new M&E data
PPI-NI participants at the T:BUC reunion.
PPI-NI participants at the T:BUC reunion.
Promoting Peace and Wellness in Cyprus seminar.
Promoting Peace and Wellness in Cyprus seminar.
M.Biyaylgne & B.Franklin w/ coaches in Ethiopia
M.Biyaylgne & B.Franklin w/ coaches in Ethiopia

PeacePlayers International - SPIN in Ethiopia

In December, PeacePlayers International (PPI) – Sports and Peace Innovation Network (SPIN) held a training session in Ethiopia led by four new SPIN trainers comprised of local staff, International Fellows and former trainees. Two of the new trainers, Million Biyaylgne and Bryan Franklin, brought their own unique experiences and perspectives to the SPIN initiatives. Biyaylgne was first introduced to PPI as a participant in 2012, during a SPIN project with Worldwide Orphans, which launched a new soccer league for orphans and vulnerable children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  PPI – South Africa International Fellow, Bryan Franklin (from Denver, Colorado), came together with Biyaylgne to work with Save the Children International in refugee camps in the Gambella region of Ethiopia.


PeacePlayers International - Northern Ireland Hosts Largest Jingle Ball Ever

PPI-Northern Ireland hosted its annual Jingle Ball tournament at Lisburn Racquets Club just outside of Belfast. Over the past 3 years, the tournament has doubled in size, from just 12 teams and around 100 participants in 2012, to 21 teams and over 200 participants in 2015.


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Visits PeacePlayers International - Cyprus 

On December 3, 2015 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took time out of his six-nation European tour to visit PPI-Cyprus and learn how their young leaders are using sport to unite the divided country. Secretary Kerry was in Cyprus for talks with Cypriot leaders to encourage progress toward ending the island’s 40-year conflict.


PeacePlayers International - SPIN in Bosnia

In November, thanks to support from the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, facilitators from PPI - SPIN traveled to Vlasic, Bosnia to see how sport could play a role in bringing these groups together. At a sports facility in the Vlasic mountains, PPI Chief Programs Officer, Gunnar Hagstrom, PPI – Northern Ireland International Fellow, Joe Smith, and PPI – Cyprus Coordinator, Stephanie Nicolas, came together with 20 Serbian, Bosnian and Croat coaches and teachers to learn how sport has been used in some of the world’s toughest conflict areas.


PeacePlayers International - South Africa Has Crowns Champions

In the beginning of November, PPI-South Africa’s season ended with the 26th City Wide Tournament, sponsored by the Laureus Foundation South Africa and Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.  Approximately 500 participants, 50 volunteers, and 21 PPI-SA coaches and staff took part in the day-long tournament.


PeacePlayers International - Middle East Attends Retreat

In October, participants of the PPI – Middle East program attended a retreat in Kfar Maccabiah. The retreat focused on teamwork, communication, responsibility, and problem solving, all important skills in PeacePlayers, basketball, and youth development. 

PPI-NI Jingle Ball Tournament
PPI-NI Jingle Ball Tournament
Secretary of State John Kerry visits PPI-Cyprus
Secretary of State John Kerry visits PPI-Cyprus
Local BiH coaches & PPI trainers in Vlasic, Bosnia
Local BiH coaches & PPI trainers in Vlasic, Bosnia
Durban players excited to start the Tournament
Durban players excited to start the Tournament
PPI-ME participants at a retreat
PPI-ME participants at a retreat
PPI-SA Hosts Tournament In South Durban
PPI-SA Hosts Tournament In South Durban

PPI-South Africa Forms Exciting Partnership With The South Durban Sports Confederation

In September PeacePlayers International-South Africa partnered with the South Durban Sports Confederation to host an under 19 tournament at Assegai Primary School in Durban that featured multiple PeacePlayers teams.  This all started when a teacher at Assegai Primary School who had the vision of developing a sports program in the community approached PPI-SA coach Tramayne Adams and eventually introduced Tramayne to Neil Axford of the South Durban Sports Confederation.  After a successful tournament, which will hopefully progress into a fruitful partnership between PPI-SA and the South Durban Sports Confederation Mr. Axford said, “Our vision is to use sport to help create a community where there is significantly reduced alcohol and drug abuse, crime, social deviance, and teenage pregnancy.  We want all of our children to have access to education, personal development, and safe spaces.  We are incredibly excited to partner with PeacePlayers International to help make this vision a reality.”


Friendships Formed at Camp Alpha in Northern Ireland

In the last week of August PeacePlayers International-Northern Ireland tested our belief that “children who play together can learn to live together” during Camp Alpha in Belfast where many participants shared rooms with members of a different religion for the first time in their lives. A lot of friendships were formed between these young Catholic and Protestant kids over the successful four days! More recently, new PPI-NI coaches have been trained by our veteran staff and are preparing for another great programming year.


New All-Star Team Excited for Competition in Israel Basketball Association’s Youth League

September marked the start of a new programming year for PeacePlayers International-Middle East.  This year, PPI-ME started a new All Star team in the Tamra/Nahariya region of northern Israel for 12-14 year old kids.  All-Star teams are fully integrated with Palestinian Arabs and Jews and are able to compete at a high-level against other unaffiliated teams.  We wish all of our All-Star teams great success as they compete in the Israel Basketball Association youth league! 


PPI-Cyprus Excited For Start of New Programming Year

In the last week of September PeacePlayers-Cyprus celebrated community, teamwork and sport with the Cyprus Youth Council at Ledra palace. Teams from both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities came together and were joined by some local basketball enthusiasts at Ledra palace.  The Cyprus Youth Council promoted the importance of active, healthy lifestyles through sport and PeacePlayers demonstrated how basketball is a wonderful tool for bi-communal cooperation.  October marks the official start of the basketball season in PPI-CY. Teams have begun gathering together for training as everyone in the PPI-CY office prepares and plans for new activities, community events, Twinnings and tournaments. 

Happy Campers at Camp Alpha in Northern Ireland
Happy Campers at Camp Alpha in Northern Ireland
PPI's New All-Star Team Practices In Israel
PPI-CY Excited For New Programming Year
PPI-CY Excited For New Programming Year
PeacePlayers International Report - August 2015
Mush holding one of her hard earned  trophies!
Meet Christiana "Mush" Miltiadous, one of PPI-Cyprus' most enthusiastic leaders! Mush started playing basketball in 2012, but has made many strides athletically and academically in that short time. She reflected on what was an outstanding season, coming into her own both on AND off the court: "I have met some incredible people who inspire me to be the person I am today. I’m very grateful for that. They taught me a lot of things such as to have respect for the other person in every aspect of life and that everyone is the same no matter their country of origin or religion. We are all a team! A FAMILY!"
North, south, east and west have a riot... at Summer Jam!
At the end of May, PPI-Northern Ireland, with some help from students and coaches from DePauw University in Indiana, held their 'Super Sports Day' and their Summer Jam event in the same week! Events like these show how big an influence sport can be in bringing children from communities with a history of conflict together, and giving them the chance to establish strong relationships and friendships with people whom they may never have had the chance to. “If you can learn to play together, you can learn to live together”.
Alexa and a friend at her tournament.

Through the Mitzvah Program, young PeacePlayers everywhere can use their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs to raise money by hosting charity basketball tournaments, a letter-writing campaign, and donations in lieu of gifts (among many other ideas!). Check out Alexa and the Mitzvah Project she did for PeacePlayers!

For the first time, PPI, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and the Arbinger Institute teamed up with the Kansas City Police Athletic League (KCPAL) to help bridge divides between police and the communities they serve. The KCPAL program started as a community-oriented policing project in 1994, offering youth the opportunity to interact with police officers in a positive setting while participating in cultural, mentoring and sports activities. In a 2-day launch event, PPI flew to Kansas City to train police officers in PPI's Conflict Resolution through Sport Curriculum, and lead a basketball clinic for Kansas City youth. One officer said, "PPI showed me that you can bring any walk of life together, find a common ground, and if there is something you can work to accomplish together you can forget about why there was conflict in the first place." PPI and KCPAL will continue to work together throughout the year to bridge divides and change perceptions for both police officers and the youth they serve.
Earlier this month, PeacePlayers hosted 50 young women for a day of basketball and learning at the beautiful University of KwaZulu Natal – Howard College Campus. The event not only allowed participants to play on an indoor court (a rare treat in Durban), but to tour the campus and participate in an empowerment seminar led by Nokuthula “Noks” Mnguni of Zoe Life. Events like these represent an important part of PPI's Leadership Development Program curriculum as we aim to expose participants to different “next steps” after high school.
More than 150 Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot youth, coaches and volunteers came together to take part in PPI's annual 3 on 3 Spring Basketball Tournament. During the tournament, Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots competed together on mixed teams, reinforcing friendships old and new. Youth involved in the Leadership Development Program - many members of PPI for several years - assisted coaches, volunteers and our younger participants, and several of the participant's families also joined, promoting an overall sense of community for everyone involved.
North Miami Beach-born Rebecca Ross has been playing professional basketball in Israel's first division league since she was 18-years-old. While Rebecca has been coaching youth basketball for a while, this was her first year with PeacePlayers. "Before I started working with PeacePlayers I never really knew any Arabs personally, even though I saw them all the time and lived with them, I never had a conversation with an Arab. I was basically taught to “hate” the Arabs, due to the environment I was raised in... PeacePlayers has made a huge impact on me personally, due to the extreme right wing background I came from. It basically changed my whole point of view, not only towards the Arabs specifically but in general towards human beings."

Earlier this month, PPI's global partner adidas donated new gear to PPI-Cyprus' leadership development camp. At the camp participants gained important leadership skills through advanced basketball trainings, team-building exercises, and the experience of organizing their own community service projects, including a food drive and volunteering at a local animal shelter.

PPI Fellow Joseph Smith wondered how he could impact youth in Northern Ireland, a place where discrimination and sectarianism are palpable, and terror, bombings and death are in the not so distant past. So Joe listened to the advice of his mom - that sometimes the solution does not lie with what you can say, but instead what you can listen to.

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Organization Information

PeacePlayers International

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Adam Hirsch
Development and Communications Associate
Washington, DC United States
$4,447 raised of $10,000 goal
135 donations
$5,553 to go
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