PeacePlayers International Middle East concludes another successful year with a Spring Tournament!
By Jamie Walsh
PeacePlayers Middle East celebrated another successful year with an eventful spring tournament last Friday. Each year we try to bring the whole crew together at the conclusion of the season for a chance to meet one last time before the participants all disperse for summer vacation. This year PPI traveled to Holon for a packed day of basketball, lacrosse, kickboxing, hip-hop dancing, and art! We had many special guests present such as former PPI fellow and current lacrosse player David Lasday as well as Nadav Meirson. Nadav is a famous Israeli fitness instructor and head trainer of the Israeli television version of the show “Biggest Loser.”
The participants had a blast showcasing their basketball skills as well as trying out some different activities. Lacrosse player and volunteer Noah Miller added, “Even though it was hard to communicate with the kids through language, we used the lacrosse stick as our common ground and had a blast meeting and interacting with the amazing PPI kids.” It was incredible to see the mixed group learning new sports and helping each other out as they attempted to master dance moves, boxing punches, and lacrosse passes. Sewar, an Arab participant, commented, “It was so much fun to be a part of this tournament, especially the kickboxing because it was so funny and we learned new things we didn’t know before.”
Witnessing the Jewish and Arab participants work together seamlessly throughout the entire day was a wonderful reminder of why PeacePlayers exists and the lives that it has touched. As an outsider who doesn’t understand the magnitude and complexity of the situation here, it may not seem like a big deal to have two kids of different religions playing together so easily, but at PeacePlayers we know it is a huge deal and something that we do not take for granted. The conclusion of the tournament represented another small step forward, and PPI hopes to be able to continue this success for years to come!
(Fitness trainer Nadav Meirson running a kickboxing session)
Reblogged with permission from PeacePlayers International (Middle East)
The conflict between Israel and its neighboring countries have been a regular topic on the news. Rarely do we hear about cooperation or fruitful communication between opposition. So it’s great to read about young Jews and Arabs working together. It’s steps like using sports to build friendships that will one day help bring peace back to the Palestine area. I hope that other conflict-ridden countries can see this example and use sports to held rebuild relationships at the youth level. It’s clear that the power of sports can help children overcome their dislike towards people that they are supposed to hate.
PeacePlayers Helps Organize Iskele Community Festival, Tournament
By Ashley Johnson
Summertime is here in Cyprus! Summertime on the island means swimming and beach-hopping with friends, drinking Frappe (the cold coffee drink ever so popular in the Mediterranean), and community gatherings in villages across Cyprus. The village of Iskele, located in northern Cyprus, is currently hosting its 43rd annual Iskele Community Festival. The festival, the longest running in the Turkish-Cypriot community, takes place every summer in the small tight-knit village. Every year, concerts, traditional dances, and shows take place during the festival and for the past several years a 3-on-3 basketball tournament has stolen the spotlight as the biggest sporting attraction.
The tournament is organized primarily by PeacePlayers International-Cyprus’ (PPI-CY) very own, Sevki Pirlanta, longtime coach and mentor to PeacePlayers participants from across the island. Nearly all past and present PeacePlayers from the Iskele community take part in the special event, giving them the opportunity to show off their skills in their hometown.
Tonight is the second day of the two day tournament and a number of PeacePlayers participants are competing for the championship.
“Iskele is the best example of promoting basketball in the Turkish-Cypriot community,” Orhun Mevlit, PPI-CY’s Turkish-Cypriot Coordinator, said of the festival. ”This tournament provides kids an excellent opportunity to play together and compete with one another.”
Not only is PPI-CY working to connect young people across the island through basketball, we are also setting the lead example of connecting youth and engaging them within their own local communities with events such as the Iskele Community Festival.
Reblogged with permission from PeacePlayers International (Cyprus)
This is a fine example of the initiatives volunteers working for PeacePlayers Intl located in Cyprus have done to help local communities, and improve Turkish-Cypriot community ties. It’s very important that Turkish and Cypriot children learn to become friends as these children will likely be leaders of the respective communities and will have many political entanglements with each other. Thus, efforts like these will likely help stabilize the volatile relationship between Turkey and Cyprus.
My Experience (Updated)
Convicts. Druggies. Gamblers. All neglected by the general public, and treated as people deemed unable to assimilate back into society. They cannot find decent jobs, cannot break their habits, and often have lost all hope in themselves. However, a group of social workers, soccer coaches, and social entrepreneurs never lost faith in them. In 2005, they formed the ‘Society of Community Organization & Wofoo Social Enterprises of Hong Kong’, which helped form a Hong Kong team for the 2005 Homeless World Cup. Since then, Hong Kong has been a yearly participant, and has even started a local Homeless Football league.
This summer, I decided to volunteer at Homeless football, because I needed to fulfill a school obligation of 50 service hours. I emailed vice chairman Mr. Li Tak Nang about helping with the Homeless Football program. Before meeting him in person, I quickly read up on Mr. Tak Nang. I was surprised to find a man with a cushiony job at the Hong Kong Jockey Club volunteering at the a non-profit organization. However, when I met Mr. Tak Nang for the first time, he talked about a book he wrote Life is a match, and the first half is the highlights. His book discusses how players can put what they learn on the pitch in their lives off the pitch. At the instant, I realized why he was passionate about the program. He believes that the organization could use football to teach characteristics of communication, teamwork, and hard work of marginalized individuals.
At my first day volunteering at the office, I met a man who represented what Mr. Tak Nang envisioned the program would achieve. He grew up in a loving family, and at age 18 had it “all”. He had a girlfriend, a good salary, and a lot of friends. He became arrogant and felt that life was dull. Drugs, he thought, would excite his life. Instead, it ruined him for the next few years. His “exciting” life would have continued until he heard about the Homeless World Cup. Upon remembering his joys when playing soccer he was young, along with the requirement of being drug free to attend the tournament, this man made a vow to stop drugs and try and make the world cup team. Seeing how the opportunity to play in the Homeless World Cup motivated so many like him made me realize that more NGOs must use sports as a way to help the marginalized.
Success stories about drug rehabilitation are few and far between. Looking at how sports can be used to motivate people to end their bad habits, I wonder if more drug rehabilitation centers should use sports to motivate their patients. As people only make sacrifices for something they’re passionate about.