Recent Highlights

2013 

PPI - SPIN partners with Worldwide Orphans in Ethiopia

On October 15, the PeacePlayers International - Sports and Peace Innovation Network (PPI - SPIN)  traveled to Addis Abba, Ethiopia to work with coaches from Worldwide Orphans (WWO). PPI facilitators worked with 25 Ethiopian youth soccer educators who will be coaching in a WWO Soccer League. The training was centered around helping the coaches understand that they are role models who can make a genuine difference in the lives of children. Many orphanages and other community organizations around Addis Ababa will be involved in the league, which will allow vulnerable children to experience social interaction, and build new relationships.

PeacePlayers Attends Beyond Sport Summit in Philadelphia  

On September 10, PPI Executive Director Brendan Tuohey participated on a panel at the 5th annual Beyond Sport Summit in Philadelphia. The summit has become the largest gathering around sport and social change in the world, bringing together over 750 leaders in development, business, government, philanthropy to discuss how sport can be better used to address social issues. The Panel called “Beyond the Divide,” looked at sport’s role in peace-building, reducing ignorance, and educating different sides of ethnic, racial and religious divides. Brendan participated along side Oliver Percovich, founder of Skateistan, Ali Fahour, founder of AFL – Bachar Houli Islamic Program, and other practitioners using sports in unique ways to address faith-based or ethnic-based conflict.

NBA  and WNBA Stars visit Cyprus 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!”

PPI-Northern Ireland Holds Game of Three Halves-August 14, 2013 

On Wednesday August 14th, PPI-Northern Ireland hosted over 100 Catholic and Protestant children at Seaview Stadium to play rugby, soccer, and Gaelic football at the Game of Three Halves, the flagship event of the Belfast Interface Games. The Flagship Event was the culmination of the Belfast Interface Games summer camps, which included four camps over a span of two weeks in each part of the city of Belfast – north, south, east, and west. Local sporting stars Nick Williams and Neil McComb from Ulster Rugby, along with Drew Wylie from Ulster GAA Champions Monaghan, were on hand to provide children with encouragement.

PeacePlayers International - Northern Ireland hears U.S. President Barack Obama speak in Belfast 

On Monday, June 17th, PeacePlayers International - Northern Ireland staff, board members, and Champions 4 Peace were privileged to be invited to attend a gathering of youth groups, schools, and organizations at Waterfront Hall where both First Lady Michelle and President Barack Obama spoke. Michelle gave an empowering speech aimed at the young people about both her and the President’s upbringing. She told the young crowd, “In just a couple of decades…you will be the ones shaping our future with your passion, energy, and ideas.” President Obama spoke of the peace process and Northern Ireland’s progress over the last 30 years. Champions 4 Peace described the First Lady and President’s words as “extremely motivating and hopeful for a better future.” Overall, it proved to be an empowering and inspiring day for all members of PPI-NI.

PeacePlayers shares the power of sport at UN Office for Sport and Development

PeacePlayers International Fellow Ashley Johnson collaborated with the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) at their Sport for Development Camp for young leaders from Francophone Africa and The Middle East in early June 2013. Thirty young leaders participated in the 11-day camp. PeacePlayers was a perfect fit for the program, which focused on a different theme each day. The theme of PeacePlayers’ facilitation day 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. The camp was a great way for young leaders that share the belief that sports unites to inspire and learn from each other. 

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

In June 2013, 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. 

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

In May 2013, 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. 

PPI Celebrates March Madness with Events in Washington, DC and New York

On March 21st, PeacePlayers held its annual “Party for Peace” at Capitale in Washington, DC. Friends and supporters gathered to watch the first round of the Men's NCAA championship. Executive Director, Brendan Tuohey, and former International Fellows, Michael Vaughan Cherubin and Rory O’Neil, talked about PPI’s peacemaking efforts and the impact on the children. Three weeks later, on April 8th, PPI celebrated the NCAA Mens Championship Game at the “Dropping Dimes for Peace” party in New York City. Guests got to watch the nail-biting match up between Louisville and Michigan at Hill Country Barbecue, while bidding on some incredible prizes. Guests also had the chance to meet Brooklyn Nets Center and PPI supporter, Brook Lopez. Former PPI - Middle East Fellow, Julie Younes, and former PPI – South Africa participant, Andrew Goba, spoke about how PeacePlayers has impacted their lives. Together, the events raised $75,000 that will go directly to help the children in PPI's programs become champions for peace by playing basketball.

PPI - SA Holds CityWide Tournament

On March 16th, PPI - SA brought together 425 boys and girls from underprivileged communities to participate in the biannual CityWide Tournament, a cross community education day where the emphasis is on social integration and fun. This day strongly emphasizes our mission of “bridging divides” and “changing perceptions” as many communities and children get a chance to meet and play together, and most importantly learn from one another. This year the US Consulate in Durban signed on to support the tournament. After nearly 5 hours of activity, everyone gathered together for an awards ceremony. The most coveted award of the day was the “Champion of Peace” award, given to the boy and girl on each court who best embodied the spirit of sportsmanship, hard work, and camaraderie. At the end of the day, the kids headed back to the buses, many with awards, prizes, and certificates they had earned throughout the day. 

2012

PPI – NI Holds 10th Annual Jingle Ball Tournament

For the 10th year in a row, PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland hosted 182 children from the Belfast and Lurgan areas at the annual Jingle Ball tournament. PPI-NI’s tournaments are a celebration of the work the children have done together all year. Children from 25 different schools shared buses to Stranmillis College in South Belfast. The sports hall was buzzing with what seemed like a million different coloured t-shirts. Special guests Joe Lockhart and Jim Lambright, US board members, who made fantastic coaches on the day were kind enough to present the medals and trophies to the winners. Given the current widespread violence and rioting across the greater Belfast area, it was a great achievement to have so many children and volunteers present on the day. 

 

PeacePlayers Turns Hoop Dreams Into Peaceful Reality; Joe Lockhart Fundraiser Nets $38,690+

On Tuesday, November 27, former White House Press Secretary and PPI Board Member, Joe Lockharthosted a fundraiser for PeacePlayers inside his Dupont Circle home. With Lockhart generously agreeing to match all gifts, PeacePlayers collected some $40,000 in only two hours. Much of such enthusiasm can no doubt be credited to the night's hosts who, in addition to Lockhart, included Marc Adelman, Mike Feldman, Peter Hutchins, Joel Johnson, Sara Latham, Mike McCurry, Jake Siewert, Alex Slater, Mary Streett, Kimball Stroud, Jennifer Swanson, and Brian Wolff. The money raised will be quickly put to good use moving forward, with the nonprofit's coaches and mentors already operating year-round programs in South Africa, Northern Ireland, Israel, the West Bank, and Cyprus. See the full story on REVAMP.com.

 

Youth Programs Aim for Peaceful Future in Middle East

Rocket fire over the Gaza Strip halted Nov. 21. However, with both sides willing to retaliate if the other does not keep the agreement, long-term peace still remains shaky. Many international organizations are running programs in the Middle East, or domestically, that offer activities for Palestinian and Israeli young people. The only catch — they have to participate together. “Changing the status quo will require young leaders whose personal experiences differ from those who came before them,” Tal Alter said, director of operations with PeacePlayers International. The organization’s Middle East program offers several year-round leagues in Israel and the West Bank that bring together young people through basketball. This year, the organization’s Middle East program will have just under 500 participants and more than half will be girls. Alter believes the program in the Middle East is especially powerful because of the ability to bring kids together on a frequent basis. In parts of Jerusalem, Arabs and Israelis live very close to each other, but generally never interact. By bringing them together multiple times a week for nine months, friendships can grow and strengthen. “Through our program model of long-term, frequent, integrated basketball activities, young people develop friendships across existing divides, and when they do, their perceptions of the ‘other’ group as a whole also start to change,” Alter said. See the full story in usatodayeducate.com.

8 Celebrities on the Charities Closest to Their Hearts - PPI Featured in Oprah Magazine

Ann Curry: "Five years ago, I reported a story about PeacePlayers International, or PPI, an organization that uses basketball to create connections among young people in divided communities. PPI puts kids who typically wouldn't interact—like Catholic and Protestant teenagers in Northern Ireland—on the same team to encourage dialogue and friendship. In countries like South Africa, where whites traditionally play rugby and indigenous people typically play soccer, basketball can be a sort of safe zone; everyone comes on equal footing. My family and I became involved with PPI last summer when we traveled to Durban to learn more and join in the games, and this year we went to Israel and the West Bank. While there, we asked the Jewish and Palestinian kids on one team if they ever hang out, and they all broke out laughing and said, 'Yeah, duh!' In places where young people are often encouraged to think the worst of others, these are the kinds of relationships that give hope for a more peaceable future." See the full story on Oprah.com.

Testimonials

"I met new players I didn't know before, and learned how to play with new people. The best part was learning things from new players and different areas coming together. I learned you don't have to...
Amir, Participant, PeacePlayers International – Middle East
"We typically use activities such as art and drama to bridge divides between the youth. We always knew that sport had the potential to do the same, but PPI - ME's sport day went way above and beyond...
Yael Gur, Project Manager, A New Way, Israel
"When you get to know your teammates, it doesn’t really matter what their religion is."
Aoife Doherty, Participant, PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland
"A lot of kids believe that one kid on the other side is a good person, but every other one is a bad person, and they then carve out these narrow exceptions. What [PPI’s] curriculum is doing is...
Chad Ford, Director, David O. McKay Center for Intercultural Understanding, Brigham Young University
"I was scared to death at first. But by the end of the match, I realized we were all the same."
Geina Mdungo, Participant, PeacePlayers Interational – South Africa
"In the beginning I participated for the basketball, but then I made friends with the Turkish-Cypriots. Now we play and we all have fun together."
Evripidis Kardamilas, Participant, PeacePlayers International – Cyprus
"I’m glad that Ronnie’s taking part in PeacePlayers…hopefully Ronny doesn’t have to go through what I went through at Ronnie’s age.”
Manny Macauley, Parent, PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland
"Programmes like this that work at the grass roots level with the young people in our society are vital to achieving sustainable peace within our communities. We are committed to supporting and...
Denis Rooney, CBE, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, Chairman, International Fund for Ireland
"We find that the PeacePlayers program brings in life-skills in a non-threatening way, and is helping to educate children on the big issues of HIV…We also find that in the PeacePlayers program, we...
Pamilla Mudhray, CSI Manager, Sasol, South Africa
"I was on the train one day with my Jewish friends and they started making fun of an Arab woman…I told them to stop and that she was embarrassed and that she just wanted to go to work. I then told...
Adiel, Participant, PeacePlayers International – Middle East
"By focusing on the game of basketball and the values of sportsmanship, the youth learn to break down stereotypes to contribute to an environment whereby children who play together can learn to live...
Bicommunal Support Program, U.S. Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus
"If she takes one thing away, it’s to know that there’s no differences from the other community, that everybody’s equal, and that she has great enjoyment with PeacePlayers."
Nula Doherty, Parent, PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland
"We work in an education system that is divided…PeacePlayers program is pointed towards the integration of those children. You’re getting children to mix in an environment where there’s not the...
Derrick Harkness, Principal, Carrs Glen Primary School, Northern Ireland
"Basketball has added a new dimension to our sporting activities. Of course, it improves coordination and also improves communication between the kids themselves. It’s wonderful that PPI has become...
Jennifer Sonasundrum, Principal, Merry Hill Primary School, South Africa
"It’s hard to live without my parents, but my PPI coach is always there for me. He’s really more like a brother."
Sihle Cele, Participant, PeacePlayers International – South Africa
"At the start [playing together] wasn't weird, but it was different because we would never have gotten the opportunity to go out and meet Protestants and be friends with them."
Ann Murphy, Participant, PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland