As an organization working to use basketball as a catalyst for peace advocacy, International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) is, naturally, a big event for us. Since the UN holiday was created in 2013, organizations all over the world use April 6th as a day to celebrate their hard work using sport for peace, human rights, and development in their communities.
For PeacePlayers – Cyprus, it’s no different. We wanted to do something big for IDSDP, celebrating and demonstrating the great work that our participants, leaders, and coaches do on the island. While researching the ways different organizations celebrate, I found out that Peace and Sport, an organization from Monaco, was holding a football friendly match between a Turkish-Cypriot club and a Greek-Cypriot club. Nea Salamina and Magusa Turk Gucu (MTG) planned to face off in Pyla, with famous football and Peace and Sport’s Vice President, Didier Drogba, in attendance. I immediately sent an email to their page to see if we could get involved, and their response was better than I could’ve hoped. We were given tickets to see the match, invited to their networking event, and Drogba was going to come to our programming!
With the tickets that Peace and Sport gave us, we were able to take a small group of kids to watch the match, which ended up being a professional Twinning, where they mixed the teams up to compete together. It was a great match, a beautiful day (I think I’m still suburnt), and a great place to see both communities interacting and enjoying themselves.
After the match, there was a slight hiccup. Peace and Sport said that they would have to cancel Drogba’s visit to PeacePlayers due to the match going longer than they thought. But after a couple phone calls and re-scheduling, he was able to come to our mini-twinning at the UN basketball court. Our Dali and Nicosia Mixed teams brought the energy and excitement, and Drogba ended up joining in for our relay races and shooting games. Afterwards, he signed autographs and took pictures, and we gave him some PeacePlayers swag!
It was a great day to celebrate the work that we do, and also give the participants a chance to meet other big names in the sport and peace world. It felt like the beginning of big things to come for PeacePlayers – Cyprus, and we’re all excited to see how our site can continue to make an impact for our participants, our community, and our island.