“I want to see my country united again”: How a Laureus sports charity is bringing a country together
May 21, 2013
Laureus supports and works with charity sports projects across the world. Here we talk to a young man from a basketball project in Cyprus to learn how the sport is helping bring both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot youngsters together in friendship.
Alexis describes his home-town as a community of cuddlers. Loving hugs are shared between different families. Everyone, he says, knows everyone.
It’s a heart-warming image.
But if togetherness best describes where Alexis grew up in Cyprus’s Latsia, a darker tale of division and conflict characterises the country at large.
Cyprus has long been characterised by a Greek and Turkish ethnic divide. Following a conflict in 1974 the island was effectively cut in two. Greek Cypriots now inhabit the south, Turkish Cypriots the north.
Growing up in a country like this has left an indelible mark on young Alexis, one of curiosity and deep concern.
“As a young person, I would question what the other side think of me,” Alexis tells Laureus.com.
But answers would not be easy to find. He explains: “School doesn’t really help you with these questions. They just teach that the Turkish are bad, that they do harm to us. They would never say the conflict is our fault or anything like that. We are always the ‘good people’ in the conflict
“They didn’t tell the whole story.”
Alexis was passionate about finding a better understanding of his place in the world and of his homeland. To do so, Alexis turned to an unlikely source of education: Basketball.