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Using basketball as a reconciliation tool to empower youth across physical divides in Cyprus and create the next generation of advocates for peace

What WE DO

Located in the mediterranean sea, Cyprus is a small island with the last divided capital city in the world.
An inter-ethnic war in 1974 has physically divided the island into two separated communities, Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots.
Many inter-ethnic tensions have been raised ever since and individuals from both communities fear, do not trust and do not like each other.
As part of a global youth led movement to create a more peaceful and equitable world, PeacePlayers is using the game of basketball as a tool to overcome inter-ethnic barriers that exist in Cyprus.
As the only year round bicommunal youth sports organization on the island, PeacePlayers Cyprus brings together Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot youth to play, learn, and build meaningful friendships leaving behind generations of mistrust for a future of peace and unity.

The Cyprus Conflict Through the Youth's Eyes

Our Programming

PeacePlayers Cyprus engages over 200 Greek-Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot youth each year, ages 8-18, in year-round and multi-year basketball training, conflict resolution education and leadership development activities. Programs are divided as follows:

Cyprus Programming 5

Local BaSketball clubs

PeacePlayers Cyprus has 12 basketball teams around the island with more than 200 children taking part in basketball training twice per week for 10 months per year.

Cyprus Programming 4

Leadership Development program

Consisting of a small group of youth leaders from the different communities of Cyprus, aged 15-18, the program centers on a year-long conflict resolution curriculum, including; communication, peace education, university prep, DEI, and team-building.

IBL logo with team logos around 2021-2022

Island Basketball League

How does it work: Participants will be placed on a team for the entire year. That team will play competitive matches against another team once a month. After the match, participants will attend a classroom session that will work on DEI and conflict resolution education. 

How are the teams made: Participants will be placed on teams based on their location, gender and age. The IBL teams are mixed group teams that have players from all over the island together. Learn More.

Cyprus Programming 1


The PeacePlayers Cyprus Summer Camp is a program highlight for the year; bringing together youth from all communities in Cyprus aged 12-18, for 6 days/5 nights in Agros Village.

Throughout the week, the participants interact both on the court and in the classroom where they attend sessions facilitated by PeacePlayers staff and coaches. Basketball training sessions take place once a day on the basketball court at the Agros KOA Arena as well as in the classroom where the participants attend leadership training and conflict resolution workshops. The unique camp experience encourages participants to live and learn together and create a foundation for PeacePlayers to form lasting and impactful friendships.

Cyprus Programming 3

Assistant Coaches Programme

Young graduates of our LDP begin to work with our local teams and undergo training in order to strengthen their skills, gain experience and be equipped to serve as future coaches/facilitators.

Other Initiatives

Color the Court

the court

Color the Court is a community building project that aims to connect art and sport.

Thematic workshops are held in schools in different communities around the island, focusing on subjects such as peace, women in peace-building, or peace-building in general. The local artist works with the kids in the workshop to create a professional design that is then painted on a refurbished basketball court.


Education for a Culture of Peace – “IMAGINE”

‘Imagine’ is an Educational Program on Anti-racism Education/ Education for a Culture of Peace.

Cyprus Programming 7

A Global Initiative - The Friendship Games

The PeacePlayers Friendship Games serves as the annual global convening.

Proven Impact

0 %

of Leadership Development Program Participants feel like they can stand up for what they think is right, even if their friends disagree

0 %

of basketball challenge participants increased their score week to week for the Island Basketball League


of our assistant coaches employed for 2020-2021 are graduates of the Leadership Development Program and long term PeacePlayers participants

Our Team

Jale Canibalik, PeacePlayers Cyprus

Jale Canibalik

Managing director

Location: Cyprus

An expert in program management and strategic development, Jale has several years of experience working within the fields of civil society and reconciliation, peace-building, conflict resolution, gender and diversity, project development and capacity building. She was born and raised in South London in the United Kingdom and has been living in Cyprus since 2007. Before joining PeacePlayers Cyprus in March 2014; Jale worked at the Management Centre of the Mediterranean as the Civil Society and Reconciliation Program Manager dealing with all operational and fiscal matters for the program. Since April 2020 Jale has been supporting the global development team as the Global Resource Development Manager, supporting the development and writing of proposals, awards and grants. She continues to support civil society organizations and initiatives and volunteers her time at various NGOs across the island. Jale is married with three children.

Stephanie Nicolas, PeacePlayers Cyprus

Stephanie Nicolas

Internal Operations Manager

Location: Cyprus

Stephanie was born in Nicosia, Cyprus. Prior to joining PeacePlayers Cyprus she received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Bedfordshire (UK) in Sport Science and Coaching and her Master’s degree in Globalization and Sport from Loughborough University (UK).


Stephanie was a member of the ENAD women’s professional basketball team in Cyprus for 5 years before leaving for her studies in the UK. Upon her return to Cyprus she joined her team once again. While studying in the UK she was a member of the University of Bedfordshire and Loughborough University Women’s Basketball team and a team captain. She was named MVP by the University of Bedfordshire women’s basketball team in 2008-2009 and Player of the Year in 2009-2010. Stephanie is still an active basketball player, playing in Cyprus Women’s first division league.


Her involvement in basketball led her to participate in bi-communal camps that began in Cyprus in 2005. Even since her bi-communal involvement Stephanie got the opportunity to represent Cyprus in the World Scholar Athlete Games hosted in the United States of America in 2006 with a full basketball scholarship. Stephanie then became a young leader in the bi-communal camps that were held in Cyprus in 2006 and 2007, and then in 2008 and 2009 she became an instructor.


In 2011, Stephanie volunteered for PeacePlayers Cyprus as a coach during their summer camps, twinnings and Leadership development programs. When she finished her master’s degree she joined the PeacePlayers Cyprus family as an Assistant Coordinator, in 2013 move to Program Coordinator and since September 2019 she’s the Internal Operations Manager.

Ozgul Saygun

Ozgul Saygun

Project Coordinator

Location: Cyprus

Born in Nicosia, Cyprus, Ozgul has attended bi-communal camps during her teenage years and was one of the co-founders of a youth club that organized bi-communal youth activities in high school. After graduating from University of Hull (UK) she moved to Ankara, Turkey for her master’s degree. During her studies she worked with NGOs voluntarily. After moving back to Cyprus in 2016 she continued her work in NGOs and participated in peacebuilding activities. Being a swimmer herself, she is a believer in team work and the power of sports for bringing people together.


Prior to joining PeacePlayers Cyprus, Ozgul worked in European Union Projects for youth entrepreneurs and apprentices programs as administrative. Ozgul joined the PeacePlayers Cyprus family in 2019 as Project Coordinator.

Tim Driessen

Tim Driessen


Location: Cyprus

I was born and raised in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. Sports dominated most of my younger years and at the age of 18 I accepted a tennis scholarship for a University in the USA. Having studied a combination of politics, philosophy, economics and international relations in various countries (USA, Netherlands, and China) for my Bachelor degree, I developed a strong interest in peace and conflict. For that reason, I enrolled in a Master program in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. It was here that I became acquainted with the Sport for Development and Peace sector. Not only does this field allow me to combine my passion for sports (education) and my interest in peacebuilding and conflict resolution, but it also means I could contribute to a cause I strongly believe in. My internship at PeacePlayers Cyprus gives me a valuable insight in this line of work.

Athina Papagianni

Athina Papagianni

Basketball Coordinator

Location: Cyprus

Athina was born in Nicosia, Cyprus. She studied Business Administration – Management at the University of Cyprus and completed a Master’s degree in Sport Business Management from Sheffield Hallam University, UK. She has been playing basketball for 15 years, while she has recently gained a C’ Level Coaching Qualification from Cyprus Basketball Federation Coaching School. Athina has joined PeacePlayers Cyprus as a basketball coach in 2019. And as of September 2021 Athina joined PeacePlayers Cyprus as the Basketball Coordinator. She is very excited to be part of the organization and believes that sport can bring people together and have a huge impact on their lives.

Onat Serin

Onat serin

Basketball Coordinator

Location: Cyprus

Onat was born in Morphou, Cyprus. He started playing basketball from the age of 6 and for more than 15 years played in all the different age categories, including the super league in the northern part of Cyprus. In 2018, he got his basketball coaching certification and started coaching kids in academies and teams in the northern part of Cyprus, before graduating from Middle East Technical University’s Business and Administration department in 2019. After that he moved to Germany, Cologne to study M.Sc. Sport Managements, in the German Sport University of Cologne. He did several internships in basketball clubs managing sale departments, social media, etc. and also gained more experience in coaching while in Germany. During summer 2020, he did an internship with PeacePlayers Cyprus. In summer 2021, he volunteered in Euroleagues Final Four that was held in Cologne, Germany. In addition to that, he coordinated two teams from the northern part of Cyprus to join him at basketball development camp in Serbia. Lastly, he worked as an assistant coach in a U15 team before joining PeacePlayers Cyprus as the Basketball Coordinator. 

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© 2021 PeacePlayers PRIVACY POLICY