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.

Day 1 - Hands Banner Before It Was Marked

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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PeacePlayers SA New Volunteer Reflects on the Friendship Games!

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


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.

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.


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: #PeacePlayersSAUnite

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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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: #PeacePlayersSAUnite

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

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


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.


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.


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”

The Road to Peace

This weeks post is brought to you by PP-NI International Fellow, Leif Frymire. 

It was approximately 11.30pm Monday night.  We had left the airport 15 minutes earlier.  In the group chat with all the coaches and coordinators they were taking bets on when we would arrive to the hotel.  At that same moment our van driver, using only hand gestures because he doesn’t speak english, hails Andrew and I out of the van to show us why we have stopped on the side of the highway.  The trailer carrying all our luggage that was being towed behind the van has lost a tire. This was my response in the group chat…


Some context.  From 18th to 25th June, PeacePlayers international sites came together for a week long basketball camp at the Rodon Hotel in Agros, Cyprus.  Of Cyprus, Middle East and South Africa, Northern Ireland was the last group to arrive on Monday night.  Well actually, Tuesday morning…




Our bus from Belfast left the Europa Centre at 5.30am (Belfast time) Monday morning.  We flew from Dublin to Bucharest, Romania.  3 hours later we flew from Bucharest to Larnaka, Cyprus.  We arrived at the Rodon Hotel approximately 1.30am Cyprus time, or 11.30pm Belfast time.  Now back to the side of the highway….


Thankfully, our phone plans gives us coverage anywhere in the EU.  Quickly we were on the phone with Steph, programme coordinator for PP-CY, and organiser of trip. Gave her an update.  After it was clear what the van driver wanted us to do, we quickly moved all the suitcases into the van with us.  Luckily there was enough room, just barely.


After all the luggage was moved onto the bus.

The van is on the move again with the trailer still being towed behind us.  Another phone call with Steph, I hand the phone to the driver.  A quick conversation, the phone is back to me.  We have the trailer until we can find an exit to leave it off somewhere.  40mins later we’re at the base of the mountains.  I see signs that show to expect 10 to 15 degree inclines.  We’re basically crawling up the road at this point.  The van is working real hard, or at least it sounds like it is.  The journey up the mountain was probably just as long as the journey from the airport to the base, if not longer.  It was approximately 12.30am when I had the thought for this blog post.

Our journey from Belfast was long.  It was exhausting.  It was complicated.  Not everything went according to plan.  There may have been more direct options, but they weren’t suitable.  Despite all the challenges we experienced along the way, we eventually made it to our destination.  I’ll argue it made the destination so much sweeter as well.  The sense of relief having finally, truly arrived in Agros made the journey well worth it.

In many ways, one could say the same for the peace process.

To build peace takes time.  There may be a clear direct route, but often that’s not an option nor is it sustainable.  Sometimes you have to make concessions along the way.  Other times you think you’ve finally arrived and nothing else can go wrong, but then you end up on the side of the highway with a flat tire.  However, despite all the complications, despite the time it took, despite the frustration and stress it caused, you’ve arrived to your destination.  In fact, during the time it took, the bonds formed may just have built stronger relationships.  I believe this is to be true for all our PeacePlayers sites, both international and national.


During the week, a leader asked a group of kids at the dinner table, “what’s more important, the journey or the destination?”  I leave that question to you…

Stay tuned for more details on an exciting week in Agros, Cyprus! 

PeacePlayers South Africa Hosts 30th City Wide Tournament!



A high school team all geared up and and ready for the day.

On the 2nd of June 2018, PeacePlayers South Africa hosted its 30th City Wide Tournament at Hoy Park Sports Grounds. The City Wide Tournament is a bi-annual event put on in the months of June and October. This event brings together over 500 youth in the PeacePlayers programme and approximately 100 youth from external schools around KwaZulu-Natal. What’s more, the unique thing about this tournament is that children are mixed with players from others schools and compete in these mixed teams throughout the day to further facilitate interaction.

The external schools that attended this were YMCA PMB, Kingsway High School, Pinetown Boys High School and LIV Village, bringing the total number of participants on the day to approximately 700. Volunteers also came in their numbers to support and assist on the day, which made the tournament even more of a success.

The excitement amongst the children could not be held back by the paddles of water on the court from the rain the previous night. Everyone was in high spirit and ready for the day. By 10 am the clouds cleared and the sun came out to play. The entire event was truly a team effort. Thembinkosi “Mtu” Zulu got the participants warmed up for the day ahead, with a unique aerobics basketball themed warm up. On the mic, managing the fixtures and master time was Sbahle Mkhize, Nasiphi Khafu hosted and gave our guests of honor a detailed tour of our event, and last Thobani Khumalo, Ntobeko Ngcamu and Sfiso Mthembu made sure the games were played in true PeacePlayer style.


Mtu facilitating the warm up.

Throughout out the day we had radio interviews being conducted by the SABC Foundation with participants. Furthermore, the US Consulate General Durban, who were also our guests of honor did some video interviews with participants. Sherry Zalika Sykes, USA Consul General – Durban, was a delight to have as a guest of honor. During the prize giving she addressed the participants, and engaged them with stories of how she, herself played basketball and how proud she was of the young players for taking part in this event.


Sherry Zalika Sykes addressing the participants during the awards ceremony.

The event would have not taken place without the financial support from the National Lottery Commission. We thank you. Also, a major thank you to the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, YMCA PMB and Spring Light Gas (SLG). More especially to SLG for sponsoring the beautiful playing kits that the Leadership Development Programme participants were wearing. Lastly, thank you to the PeacePlayers South Africa coaches and volunteers for your outstanding work on the day.


LDP Participants playing the newly purchased SLG Kits.

For more pictures and videos from the day, please check out our Facebook page!! Thank you to the over 670 youth and over 100 volunteers who helped us make our 30th City Wide Tournament a huge success!!!


PeacePlayers-South Africa Launch Two Refurbished Courts!

A group picture from the Sukuma Primary School court launch.

This week’s blog is written by Sbahle Mkhize, PeacePlayers South Africa Developments and Events Manager regarding last week’s basketball court launches.

Since joining PeacePlayers-South Africa as the Fundraising Manager in 2015, the poor/ deteriorating state of the then, 14 year old basketball courts, were a priority for the fundraising team, to renovate. Many of the courts in the schools programme were built when our organization started in South Africa. Raising funds for the refurbishment of basketball courts was a challenge mainly because basketball is not one of the top three (Soccer, Cricket & Rugby) sports in South Africa. So, when I met Mr Gaf Osman at a Laureus Sport for Good breakfast and we started to speak about the needs we have as an organization, it was the court renovation need that stood out for Mr Osman. As a trustee board member for the South African Charitable Muslim Trust (SAMCT), Mr Osman saw the potential of great partnership between the Trust and PeacePlayers-South Africa.

Mr Gaf Osman from the South African Muslim Charitable Trust

The two schools that were selected for renovation were Sukuma Primary School (Umlazi) and Addington Primary School (City). SAMCT awarded a total amount of R151 000 for the court refurbishments. Both court launches took place in one week and were both a huge success. The principals and teachers were all very helpful all throughout the planning process and without them the court launches were not going to be as great as they were. A major THANK YOU to Mr Moodley and Mrs Reddy from Addington Primary School and Mrs Makhanya from Sukuma Primary School.

Nasiphi and Mr Osman officially opening the Addington Primary School Court

At both court launches Mr Osman gave a speech on behalf of SAMCT. Mr Osman said PeacePlayers-South Africa’s philosophy of providing children a sports-based education, teens the opportunity to develop leadership skills and communities with a constituency of skilled, confident mentors for the next generation, was “to be roundly applauded.” He added: “Sport plays an exceptionally important role in education in South Africa. Sadly, however, the basketball courts at Sukuma and Addington Primary School, although heavily used, has lacked necessary maintenance, meaning that it has slipped into a state of disrepair. PeacePlayers-South Africa has led the drive to bring the court back to its former glory, so enabling sport to again become a catalyst for empowerment at both these schools.”

The highlight for us as an organization was the decision both schools took to name their newly refurbished courts after PeacePlayers-South Africa. It shows us that the communities and schools all value our programme.  I would also like to take the time to THANK the school governing body representatives, PeacePlayers-South Africa board members, Local Councillors, local surrounding school representatives and parents who all came to see the court handovers and celebrate with us.

Some action from the newly launched courts.

The launch of these two courts so early in the year have set the tone and trajectory for PeacePlayers-South Africa for the rest of the year. Thank you to Rasheeda Motala (CSI Specialist SAMCT) and Mr Gaff Osman for playing such an important role in this process. We are looking forward to the endless possibilities of partnerships with SAMCT in the future. Onwards and upwards!