1 Basketball + 2 Kids = 1 Step Closer to World Peace

In places once thought the least possible.

Sep 21, 2015
Special Collections: CONNECTING HEARTS

(kstudija / Shutterstock.com)

Peace-building entities often approach conflict by first finding common ground. For some, this may be language, values, or goals. For PeacePlayers International that common ground is basketball.

PeacePlayers International, or PPI, believes in the power of sport to unite children ages 6-14 in areas of conflict – from the Middle East to South Africa to Ireland. The organization’s “bottom-up” approach aims to transform the attitudes of antagonistic communities to work towards reconciliation, mutual trust and cooperation. When separated by the ethnic boundaries of their communities, individuals are often left with only stereotypes, preconceived ideas, and historical prejudices to judge the “other.” However, a structured setting – like a basketball court – is a chance to create a positive interaction in the pursuit of a shared goal. Sports’ universal appeal transcends religion, age, culture, socio-economic status, politics and ethnicity – and that’s why Peace Players International works.

Since 2001, this organization has used basketball as a medium to create peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, whites, blacks and Indians in South Africa, and Greeks and Turks in Cyprus. Aptly named “The Anatomy of Peace,” the curriculum blends basketball activities and guided discussion to give young people a language to discuss leadership and conflict.  

PPI isn’t interested in a one-time event either. To create a genuine transformation, PPI prioritizes relationship building over a prolonged period of time to catalyze true friendship. Take for example, Romy and Malak, two girls from two different backgrounds with a shared love for basketball. Israelis and Palestinians have had a long-standing conflict in the Middle East, and yet PPI’s inspirational mini-documentary shows how Romy and Malak disintegrate their ethnic barriers through basketball. As players on the same team, Romy and Malak go from being an Arab and a Jew, to teammates, and then - most importantly - to friends.  

International Day of Peace is September 21st and a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace. As a day of nonviolence and cease-fire, International Day of Peace is celebrated differently across the world by individuals, organizations, and entire nations. On this day -  and every other day of the year - PPI continues to empower young people to create a more peaceful world through basketball.

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