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From across the divide: Young Greek and Turkish Cypriots at Laureus-supported project join to celebrate peace through sport

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The sight of a group of kids enjoying some food in the sun, listening to music and playing a bit of basketball isn't such an unusual sight.
But when you realise that the group consists of 100 kids from both Greek-Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, playing together in the Cypriot Buffer Zone between the North and South of the island, you know you are witnessing something truly special.
This all took place at last weekend's Peace Day Basketball Tournament organised by the fantastic Laureus-supported community sports project PeacePlayers International - Cyprus.
The event was organised to mark International Peace Day and was held in the middle of the Buffer Zone at the Ledra Palace UN barracks in Nicosia, the Cypriot capital.
This location was chosen as a symbolic place of neutrality where both Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot children could put past prejudices behind them and come together to focus on a peaceful future.
The aim of the event was to show how sport can  break down social divides and change negative perceptions Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot kids may have about each other
The children from both communities played together in mixed teams, and it's clear from talking to the players after the event what a great experience playing together was for them.
One young Greek-Cypriot named Stefanos Pirokkas said: "It was so good and we learned many new things and we found new friends and I want to go again."
And Stefanos' thoughts were mirrored by Cetin Pirtlanta, a Turkish-Cypriot youngster, who said: "I made lots of friends and had so much fun."
Playing together in mixed teams gives a chance for kids of both communities to put preconceptions behind them and to experience shared goals and achievements
PeacePlayers do incredible work across the world promoting improved inter-community relations and tackling conflict in divided areas.
In the coming weeks the Laureus blog will be taking a special look into the PPI project in the Middle East, where Basketball is being used to bring the Israeli and Palestinian communities together peacefully.
So check back here at the blog regularly and follow Laureus on Twitter @LaureusSport for the special report soon.