“The Youth Are What Made PeacePlayers Great. Now it's Their Turn to Take That Energy into the World”
We sat down with Jale Canlibalik, to hear what the past nine years as Managing Director have meant for her, and what her hopes are for the future.
June 7, 2023
What do you think is the most important or impactful thing that you were able to achieve in the past 17 years since PeacePlayers launched?
When I first joined PP-Cyprus in 2014, there had not really been any opportunities for the youth from all the sites to come together, to really feel like they were part of something bigger. Cyprus was able to work with different funders to host the first Inter-Regional Summer Camp in 2015 and bring 12 LDP youth from each of our sites for a week long camp in Agros that included basketball, classroom sessions and cultural experiences. That camp was a pivotal moment I think for all that attended who got to see and feel part of that wider PeacePlayers community, whether they were a participant, coach or staff member. From that point on, friendships between youth from across the globe continued to strengthen as more of these inter-regional camps were hosted, and the real culture of collaboration began to emerge. I’m really proud that we as the Cyprus team did that, we were able to secure the funding, host the camp and really pull together something so big and fundamental in PP.
What’s your favorite PeacePlayers memory?
There have been so many amazing memories and moments that I will always treasure. But one that is extra special to me was when my son joined our team in Yenibogazici last September. Watching him on the court for the first time was a real moment for me. For years, I had worked with and watched our young participants in the program, and this time I got to be the parent and see my son transform. I watched him and gain confidence in himself, learn about trust and tolerance and really develop friendships. Seeing him at his first Minis event where he was shy and not as confident to seeing how he transformed by the second event, and was reaching out to other participants and supporting them and cheering on his team - it was a proud mummy moment - and it was also a proud Managing Director moment, thanks to the culture we created as a team and as coaches within PP-CY.
Do you think that the general atmosphere or attitudes around the conflict/division have changed in that last 17 years? Is there any specific moment of change that will stick with you?
There have been a lot of changes, with more youth standing up and being much more proactive about peace and reconciliation in Cyprus, and what kind of future they want to see in their community and country. I think something that has really demonstrated to me just how much has changed has been with the growth of our Leadership Development Program (LDP) over the years. The depth of the work that the LDP have done has been truly amazing and inspiring and it is testament to the work of our coaches and staff and mostly to how great our LDP youth are.
Is there something that you’d like to say to the youth who have gone through your programs? Any words of encouragement or advice for the future?
Just to always remember that they are PeacePlayers. They are what made PeacePlayers great. Now it's their turn to take that energy into the world. Everything they have learned, experiences they have lived through and friendships they have made will continue to live on and grow. Everyone on our team is working on exciting projects and visions for how to continue the work we did at PeacePlayers and how to keep creating safe spaces for our youth to come together and continue to grow. Our youth are also amazing determined individuals who I have no doubt will go on to make big waves in Cyprus.
Where do you see this movement in Cyprus heading? What are your hopes for the future?
I hope to see our youth continuing to do great things and shine brightly. I can’t wait to see them continue to grow and do great things in work, setting up their own organizations, really building on their dreams. I feel more hopeful about the future of Cyprus because I have seen just how amazing our youth are and how determined they are. Change is coming and it’s coming with an almighty force!
What’s next for the both of you? What plans do you have in the works?
I have a few projects in the pipeline that I am working on and supporting, but for now I am going to take a rest and enjoy the summer with my babies!
If people want to follow you and see what you’re up to, where can they find you?
I am on social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) and would also love to see what people are up to too!