PeacePlayers South Africa’s 33rd City Wide Tournament

PeacePlayers South Africa (PPSA) hosted their 33rd City Wide Tournament (CWT) on Saturday, the 26th of October at Hoy Park Sports Grounds in the central business district of Durban, South Africa. PPSA’s CWT is a bi-annual event held every June and October which brings hundreds of youth together from 25 schools and organisations where PPSA facilitates weekly programming throughout the year. This tournament was the culmination of another successful and unifying programming year. Congratulations to the four champions (pictured below) who were crowned on this day: Girls Primary School – Sekelani Primary School (Green), Boys Primary School – Highbury Prep School (Blue), Girls High School – LIV Village (Red), Boys High School – Inner City: Sparks Estate Secondary School, Sastri College High School, Rossburgh High School, Durban High School, and Glenwood Boys High School (Maroon). Regardless of the outcomes of the 80 games played on this day, all attending schools are PeacePlayers and champions in their communities.

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The day started with staff, parents, volunteers, medical staff, the MC, and the DJ amongst many others arriving early to set up the venue. These individuals worked hard throughout the sunny day, ensuring that all 600 youth were taken care of and this event wouldn’t have been possible without them. Additionally, PPSA had the support of 30 Ignition Group volunteers which was made possible by Laureus SA Sport for Good Foundation. Ignition Group’s volunteers were amazing throughout the entire day and were generous in capturing the event through video which you can find here. You will find highlights of the day in this video including sporadic dance competitions initiated by MC and PPSA alumna, Noluthando Msweli and crowded championship game courts from a birds eye view captured through drone footage. 

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The event’s theme, “Stop Women and Children Abuse”, was aimed at bringing awareness to a major ongoing issue in South Africa. Participating schools were asked to make posters (pictured below) during their weekly life skills through basketball sessions in preparation for the CWT. PPSA’s goal was to trigger meaningful conversations through these poster drawings early on in their participants development into adulthood so they will be advocates for the cause and blossom into examples of proper treatment of others. The hashtag #StopWomenAndChildrenAbuse was imprinted on the back of staff/volunteer shirts and was used on social media to capture these posters. Heading into the next programming year, PPSA will continue to take a stand against women and child abuse along with other matters that arise in the country pertaining to socio-economic issues, diversity, equality, etc. 

IMG_5716It has been another year where the youth of South African have become more unified through the game we all love. No matter the language barrier, cultural differences, or ethnic differences, basketball helps us see beyond that and puts a smile on the faces of everyone involved. From the principals, to the school reps, to the coaches, to the funders, PPSA appreciates everyone for making events and programming throughout the year possible. We are all paving the way toward a more peaceful society.

PPSA would like to extend a special thank you to DYR 105.1 FM and Ukhozi FM for radio interviews pre and post CWT as well as the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation for donating trophies. If you’d also like to support to PPSA’s initiatives, please donate today here and follow PPSA on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube to stay up to date on the latest in South Africa. Contact sa@peaceplayers.org for partnership/sponsorship request. #PeacePlayersSAUnite #StopWomenAndChildrenAbuse

South Africa’s Friendship Games Banner & a Look Ahead at their 33rd City Wide Tournament

PeacePlayers South Africa’s Friendship Games took place roughly over a month ago and it turned out to be a huge success. These games were presented by Ed and Penelope Peskowitz and were hosted at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Howard College – Old Mutual Sports Hall on the 24th and 25th of August. Over 170 high school participants and 60 coach-mentors from Durban and KZN areas took part in this two-day event. On Saturday, the 24th of August there were basketball, leadership and team building stations along with games and guest speakers. On Sunday, the 25th of August we had our 3rd Annual Girls Basketball Festival Tournament to commemorate South African Women’s Month paired with a Boys Three-Point Shooting Contest throughout halftimes of the tournament. It was a powerful and inspiring experience to see youth from various backgrounds display unity through the game of basketball. The most powerful message came from the student participants when we provided a platform for them to express their minds.

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As indicated above, PPSA made a 3m x 10m vinyl banner with our logo and outlines of numerous hands. Throughout the games we asked that our participants collaborate with each other and write down what they think it will take to unite South Africa in these hands. All of the quotes provoked proud emotions from the coaches and parents who read them. One coach vividly recalled watching Westville Girls High win a game on Sunday morning versus Umlazi/Molweni Girls. Shortly after this game, these teams formed a circle behind the stands facilitated by one of our coach-mentors where they bonded and shared ideas before writing on the poster. It was amazing to see the transition from competitors to PeacePlayers. Our goal is for them to realize that they were PeacePlayers all along. It’s our duty to continuously give them these platforms to express their minds.

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One day we’ll take this banner to Premier’s of every South African province and eventually the President of the country! This banner will be present at our 33rd City Wide Tournament on the 26th of October at Hoy Park Sports Grounds. This is PPSA’s bi-annual event that brings over 600 youth in our core programs together and approximately 50 youth from external schools. These schools participate in a tournament where one girls team and one boys team in each division will be crowned a champion. Please find your invite below!

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33RD CWT

PeacePlayers SA New Volunteer Reflects on the Friendship Games!

Meet Hanno Munzig, 18 year old volunteer from Ulm, Germany.

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Meet Hanno Munzig!

I arrived in South  two weeks ago as a volunteer for PeacePlayers South Africa for one year. Basketball has always been a big passion of mine, I started to play it when I was a little boy, so I was super excited to be a part of an organization that uses my favorite sport as a tool for social development. I have to say that my expectations have been exceeded thus far. To bridge social divides and develop future leaders with the help of sport and especially with basketball is an amazing idea. Besides that, every day I experience how phenomenal the PeacePlayers family feeling is and I’m just honored to be a part of it!
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PeacePlayers South Africa 2019

Last week we had an honor to host the Friendship Games, powered by Ed and Penelope Peskowitz at UKZN Old Mutual Sports Centre, these games took place in every location in the month of July and August and we were the last location to host this huge event. Over 170 under 16 high school boys and and girls and 60 youth mentor coaches from Durban and KZN areas participated in this two day overnight event and it was a powerful and inspiring experience for everyone.
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PeacePlayers South Africa Friendship Games 2019!

On Saturday morning August 24th, the focus was on stations that either improved basketball skills, promoted team building or leadership and team cohesion. In addition to the stations, the youth participants and coaches played a continuous 5-on-5 tournament in the afternoon and after participants stayed overnight in the Onomo Hotel.
On Sunday we had to get up very early because there was so much more waiting for us. PeacePlayers SA launched the Girls Basketball Festival 3 years ago to commemorate Women’s Month in South Africa, celebrate and empower young women through sport. This years Girls Basketball Festival was included in the second day of our Friendship Games. The final game of the festival was between Westville Girls High School and LIV Village School. The entire game was thrilling and came down to the last seconds. The Westville Girls triumphed as the winners of the 2019 Girls Basketball Festival.
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#PeacePlayersSAUnite

Previously, only girls competed in full games while the boys cheered them on, assisted as referees and officials. However, this year we introduced a boys Three-Point Shooting Contest at half time so they could be involved in the event. Each of the girls team had about eight boys assigned to their team throughout the day. While the boys weren’t competing in the shooting contest they were more than excited to support the girls.
Aside from South Africa, the Friendship Games took place locally in the United States, Middle East, Northern Island, and Cyprus. We are overwhelmed with the feedback we’ve received and can’t wait for a successful turnout in the Middle East next year at the Global Friendship Games and in the United States in 2020. Themes from all five PeacePlayers sites local Friendship Games will be incorporated at this Global event next year. PeacePlayers SA’s relaunched the Leadership Development Programme (LDP) selecting 30 participants and 20 of these of these participants will get an opportunity to attend these Global Friendship Games next year where they’ll meet peers from all across all PeacePlayers International sites. They are in for a life changing experience!
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Leadership Development Programme 2019 Participants! 

Special thanks to our speakers Lona Benya CEO of MaBenya Sports Consultants and Maimoona Salim the  KZN Provincial Executive of Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator for dedicating their time and sharing powerful words with our youth about the importance of self identity and self branding.
Finally, I want to say that the slogan “children who play together can learn to live together” has never been more appropriate. As I said, I’m truly blessed to be a part of PeacePlayers and global unifying events like this are a huge inspiration. E-mail me if you want to know more about me or the event: hmunzig@peaceplayers.org #PeacePlayersSAUnite
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Special thanks to ED and Penelope Peskowitz for the 3 year investment through the #FriendshipGames and thank you to NIKE Global Community Impact for donating 200 sports bras #MadeToPlay!

PeacePlayers South Africa Fellow Douglas “Doug” Nedab Provides Insight Into His First Month in Durban

This weeks blog is written by International Fellow Douglas “Doug” Nedab II.

My first month has been filled with excitement, constant adjustments, and forming bonds with people I already know I’ll never forget. The motherland is like no other place I’ve been to and the scenery is amazing. I can honestly say I wasn’t nervous at all leading up to this trip because I knew that this was for me. I’m blessed and extremely humbled to serve in my role as an International Fellow with PeacePlayers South Africa (PPSA).

Before my flight took off from DC, I ran into a fellow Old Dominion University graduate at my gate. ODU’s diversity is one of the reasons I chose my current career path.

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After a few long flights, Nasiphi “Nas” was waiting on me waving a South African flag after I retrieved my bags at King Shaka International Airport in Durban. I arrived to Durban on the first day of the three-day training for local coaches. On the last day of training they went around in a circle to express where they hope to be a few years from now and one coach simply said, “alive”. After roughly a month here, it became more apparent for me to see how kids here can become hopeless. I knew how serious that coach was and I was happy that PeacePlayers could be a positive influence in his life. Another coach, 19 year-old Sizwe Blose, has stood out to me after numerous conversations because of how well rounded he is. Despite all that he’s been through in life he’s easily one the smartest, most articulate and most adaptable human beings I’ve ever met.

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During my first two weeks I was able to learn more about PPSA’s history and visit the three townships we work in: Lamontville, Wentworth and Umlazi. I even got the opportunity to sit down with a very passionate principal, Mr. Oliver, at Gardenia Primary School in Wentworth to discuss a range of topics. I also visited Molweni where Sifiso (Head of Programs) and Sanele (Area Manager) are from. Some of the kids I coached and officiated for that day still recognize me when they see me. When I played in a basketball league at a local university with other staff members, a kid I saw previously from Umlazi walked up to me and shook my hand like he’s known me forever. These kids don’t forget you and I’ve heard the same sentiments echoed by former fellows and current employees.

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South Africa has eleven official languages. However, where I’m located the natives speak Zulu or Afrikaans, then English as a second language. There is a humorously small language barrier for me because I’ve been told that I can pass for a member of the Zulu ethnic group. People always come up to me speaking three to four sentences in Zulu until I tell them, “Angsazi isiZulu” – “I don’t speak Zulu”. Most of them know English well, except the really young kids, so I’m grateful that we can carry on with our conversation once they pick up my “American accent”. I’m learning Zulu as I go and I truly embrace being immersed in an environment where I’m the one who has to adjust.

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This experience is going to be about constant growth and making an impact in as many areas as I can. I’ve been working in all facets of our operations such as marketing/communications, community outreach, program strategy, and development/fundraising strategy. We’re getting prepared for our Friendship Games during the weekend of August 24thand I can’t wait to see the turn out. I’ll be doing an interview on the radio this Thursday to promote the event with my colleague.

Speaking of events, Nelson Mandela Day on July 18thwas another highlight. Nelson Mandela is one of my heroes and it’s been great to see him held in high regards. His face is on the currency here and there are pictures of him in every school. It’s interesting to get different perspectives about how people view what he did for this country that I hadn’t thought about before I arrived. Though the kids were filled with pure happiness on this day, I remember an area manager telling me that things aren’t always this merry. There are some days where a kid will walk in 30 minutes late to practice and you can’t reprimand them because you don’t know what they had to go through to make it there. Sometimes they have to take alternate routes to avoid gang violence. In other cases, kids may have terrible attitudes during practices but those attitudes can be rooted in what’s going on outside the basketball court for them.

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It’s different seeing how people from different ethnic communities live in their own bubble unless someone outside of what they look like can benefit them in some way. It’s evident that post-apartheid feelings are still felt but not discussed enough. I’m happy to be here doing my part through the game I love. Seeing the division is just one thing I have to get used to. Other things I’m getting used to are identifying traffic lights as “robots”, calling napkins “serviettes”, and calling gas “petro” for petroleum. We’ve had a few braais at the beach so far and I look forward to many more. A “braai” in South Africa is almost like barbequing or cooking out on a grill, except the food is cooked on an open grill and you have to be very meticulous when cooking or you’ll burn everything. Lastly, I’ve had a few popular native foods such as Bunny Chow and Igwinya/Fat Cake/Vetkoet (the terminology differs depending on your culture). Both are must haves if you visit here and please look these up!

The staff has been extremely welcoming in my short time here. My birthday was last week and we had a brief in-office celebration. Nas was a former fellow in Northern Ireland so she understands the struggles I might encounter. I’ve met so many people here so far through her and others. Understanding Nas and Sifiso’s story to the extent that I do makes it easy to see why we’re brought here together to achieve our ultimate goal. They come from humble beginnings and this game has had an indelible impact in their lives just like it has in mine. To wrap things up – I want my family, my friends, and my PPI family to know that I’m doing great and to please keep me in your prayers. I came a long way from Prince George’s County, Maryland and I hope I’m making everyone proud in the 301. E-mail me if you want to talk more: dnedab@peaceplayers.org #PeacePlayersSAUnite

32nd City Wide Tournament was a HUGE SUCCESS!!!

This week blog is written by uMlazi Area Coordinator Thobani “G Pain” Ngubane.

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Area Coordinator Thobani G Pain during his MC duties

It was a beautiful, sunny, Durban day on the 1st of June 2019 where PeacePlayers South Africa hosted its 32nd City Wide Tournament. The event was a celebration and display of the hard work that the participants and coaches have been working on in the first half of the year through weekly life skills and basketball sessions and cross community Peace League games. This bi-annual event brings together over 500 youth from 22 primary schools (aged 9-13), 6 high schools/community teams (aged 14-18) that are coached by youth mentors (aged 18-25) in the PeacePlayers core programmes that we run throughout the year from the areas of uMlazi, Lamontville, Wentworth, City, Molweni and Cottonlands. In addition, we also invited approximately 100 youth from external schools, other NPOs and community teams from YMCA PMB from Ugu District, CAST organization from Pinetown District and Stanger KwaDukuza Basketball Association from KwaDukuza District.

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Primary School participants sited in their mixed schools and mixed gender teams

The event started with the scheduled warm up facilitated by the one and only Mr. Herba-Herba, Thembinkosi Zulu and team building activities facilitated by our incredible coaches, court captains and other volunteers; this was a way to promote interaction between youth from different schools. What was most unique about the mid-year tournament is that children compete in mixed teams throughout the day, mixed in schools and gender to further facilitate interaction with each other, build trust and truly epitomizes the true essence of the PeacePlayers South Africa programme in promotion of gender equality and team cohesion.

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The Art Station with Gender Equality Posters made by Berea Primary, Addington Primary, Inner-city LDP, Assegai Primary, Gardenia Primary and Staff

As fun as the day was, it is also very long with many pieces moving at the same time to make sure that all 58 scheduled games including semi-finals and finals are played in 8 basketball courts on time and that participants, coaches, volunteers and all the officials get time to have lunch as well. The assistance of the DJ playing really good music throughout the day helps to keep the momentum going and every one of their dancing mode.

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Some of the action from the day (more pictures on Facebook)

At the end of the day we both Primary School and High School teams are crown Champions and we also give out few special awards to participants that demonstrate the PeacePlayers Spirit Award and PeacePlayers Way Award.

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Fun filled day out in the sun doing what we love

Special thanks to our partners Laureus Sport for Good South Africa for making the day possible with financial support, Spring Lights Gas for the Leadership Development Programmes (LDP) playing kits, KZN Department of Sport & Recreation for donating medals and trophies, Code Makers for spending their day teaching our participants about coding and creating their own educational games, Community Media Trust for Sexual Health Education, Zero2Five for donating 600 Future Life Dual Nutritional packs for all our participants, Glenwood Spar for giving us a discount with food purchase and our service providers. The communities we work in, our schools, principals, school reps, teachers, all our super awesome participants, our guests and friends from other organisations and schools, our INCREDIBLE Volunteers in lovely green t-shirts whom the day would not be possible without, and many other people that contribute on the daily to make it possible for us to do what we absolute love. #itscooltobeapeaceplayer #32CityWideTournament #32CityWide #PeacePlayersSA please visit our social media to see more pictures and videos: #Facebook @PeacePlayersSouthAfrica and #Instagram @peaceplayers_sa 

“Bridging divides through collaborative teamwork using the sport of basketball”

PeacePlayers Cyprus – April/May Update

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The month of April is an exceptionally busy time for the sports community. This was exceptionally true for PeacePlayers programming here in Cyprus! This blog post will highlight some of the awesome opportunities our Leadership Development Program (LDP) participants took part in over the month of April and into May. This was a time for them to execute some of the skill they have been learning throughout the year, as well as participate in some pretty unique opportunities that few youth on the island get to take part in.

ART MURAL

The front gate of the Ledra Palace Hotel in the UN administered buffer zone has received a fresh new look. The decorative mural, stretching 50 meters in length, is a collaborative project between PeacePlayers Cyprus, Visual Voices and YEU Cyprus, with support from the British High Commission Nicosia. Presenting symbols of unity and peace, it further defines the space as a connection point between communities. The ideas of this mural were inspired by youth taking part in the PeacePlayers LDP program!

The mural is made up of three principal components, all of which symbolize positive steps towards a lasting peace on the island of Cyprus. The stencil designs include: a donkey, olive leaf, scale and seedling. The symbols in red, blue and yellow are inspired by ancient Cypriot patterns found on pottery. The symbols in black come from the Caribbean, where one of the participating artists is from. Together they symbolize the harmony that can be found in diversity. The final element is a circle with two hands spiraling around the entrance gate, symbolizing the contact between communities and the opportunity to find peace.

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LEARNING TO FACILITATE (CLASSROOM SESSION)

During the past LDP classroom meeting, our Leaders had the opportunity to learn how to become better facilitators and communicators when mentoring. The session was focused on being able to keep others involved in an authentic way that ultimately increases the learning environment for everyone and increases engagement in the activities. They learned the importance of verbal vs nonverbal communication; explored different types of students and how to best communicate with them; and defined active listening.

MIGRANT WORKSHOP

During the holidays, most youth are out of school and taking the time explore other hobbies, take a break from school and hangout with friends. However, in late May, a ldp2group of our LDP participants helped facilitate a workshop for a group of teen participants from We Art One (a series of workshops a part of the LAB 31 project), which is funded by the European Union. LAB 31 aims to harness the relationship between national and foreign youngsters, through providing a platform for young people to express themselves by engaging in different cultural and artistic activities. The project desires to develop the participation of foreign adolescents, unaccompanied foreign minors included, in the cultural and social life of the host community, through specific play initiatives with the local population.ldp1

During this workshop, a group of LDP helped run several team-building games which included fun activities such as hungry hippos, an obstacle courses, basketball games and even a rope “laser” escape game. The beginning and end of the workshop felt like two different groups! At first nobody knew anybody’s name, everyone was unsure of what they were going to do or if they have any fun. At the end, nothing was the same! Fun has a very unique way of bringing people together and breaking down barriers of trust and discomfort. It was a special opportunity for both PeacePlayers and We Art One!

EXCHANGE TO ISRAEL

In mid-May, fifteen Leaders from both the LDP and JDP had the opportunity to travel to Israel to partake in an Erasmus exchange between Northern Ireland, Middle East and Norway! At the exchange, there were many amazing activities that the leaders took part in such as hiking the Masada in pitch dark for sunrise, a ropes course, rock climbing, relaxing by the Jordan river, touring the Old City of Jerusalem and last but certainly not least, participating in leadership development classroom sessions.

In mid-February, two of PeacePlayers-Cyprus members joined a group of staff and participants from each site to help plan the amazing exchange. Sophia Georgiou participated as a Coach on the exchange and helped plan the classroom session workshops. She worked to help come up with the theme “Stretch & Explore”, and here’s what she had to say about it:

“Our thinking was mostly around self-awareness and how that could really benefit someone throughout the exchange. We wanted the participants to spend time exploring who they are as individuals, exploring the people by making connections with others and exploring the cultures that are found across the exchange.”

– Sophia Georgiou, PP-CY Coach

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LEADERS GON’ LEAGUE

Check out one of our LDP participants Vedat Kaya in a playoff game with his team! One of PeacePlayers Assistant Coaches, Cetin Pirlanta, is also the Assistant coach for Vedat’s team as well. Fun fact about Vedat: he also has a twin brother, Ali, who is also in the LDP! Go Magusa!

 CAMPING EXCURSION

 This past weekend, we hosted our first ever joint LDP and JDP retreat Leadership Camping Retreat! PP-Cy was able to take 40 participants to Tatlisu, including coaches, fellow, JDP and LDP, to partner with Step Out Cyprus for a weekend of adventure, team-building, and leadership activities. We hiked to the top of the Kyrenia Mountains, rock-climbed on a cliff facing the seaside, sea-kayaked, zip-lined, played teambuilding games, had an exciting quiz night (ice cream was involved), roasted marshmallows and overall had an amazing time. It was the first time many of our participants slept in camping tents, and they enjoyed it so much that they’re already talking about when they’re going to go again. Our leaders did such a good job that Step Out Cyprus offered them volunteer positions at the camp whenever they want as volunteers! We couldn’t have done this without the help of the British High Commission who helped fund a major portion of the cost.

 

A Testimony from Ayelet

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Hi, my name is Ayelet, I am 14 years old and this is my seventh year in PeacePlayers. When I was little, I was the kind of girl who didn’t fit in in dance classes like the rest of my friends. I was looking for something different, so I decided to follow in my older sister’s footsteps and joined a basketball team. By joining PeacePlayers, I found exactly what I was looking for. When I play basketball, I love it; the satisfaction of winning a game not only as an individual, but as a team, plays a major role in that. While choosing basketball I wasn’t looking for friends, but I found them.

IMG-20190407-WA0013Even basketball players love shopping, so when my [Arab] teammate and friend Keynana turned twelve we decided to celebrate at the mall. We tried on clothes, we ate, we chatted – it was a very fun night! During our stroll in the mall we bumped in to some [Jewish] friends from my school. They came up to say hello and realized Keynana had an accent. They were shocked as it was their first time speaking to an Arab person their age. For me it was just a night out with my teammate, but for them it was a very unusual experience. The next day in school they asked me a bunch of questions and after telling them about Keynana, her hobbies, her likes and dislikes and after showing them a couple of photos of the two of us, they started to understand that she is a teenager like us and a great friend of mine. In that moment I realized what PeacePlayers is all about. I might have joined only to play basketball, but it turned out to be so much more than that.

Peace shouldn’t come from the politicians but from two girls playing basketball and going shopping together. On April 6th, we celebrate the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, but in PeacePlayers, I feel like we are celebrating this day every day!

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