Celebrating 20 Years of Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland | PeacePlayers

PeacePlayers 20th Anniversary | NICRC

PeacePlayers Northern Ireland (PPNI) is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, marking two decades of using the power of sport, specifically the game of basketball, to unite young people from historically divided parts of the community in Northern Ireland.

PeacePlayers’ work in Northern Ireland, as it is at all the PeacePlayers sites around the world, is based on the simple yet powerful promise that “children who play together can learn to live together.”

Founded in 2001, PPNI was created with the goal of using basketball as a tool for reconciliation and peacebuilding in a region that had been deeply divided by years of conflict. The organisation's mission is to unite and empower young people from different backgrounds through the shared experience of sport, and to promote understanding and respect between different communities.

Bringing Young People Together

Over the past 20 years, PPNI has reached thousands of young people from both Protestant and Catholic backgrounds, providing them with the opportunity to play basketball together and form friendships across the traditional divide. The organisation's programs include primary school programmes, youth basketball leagues, tournaments, and coaching clinics, as well as leadership development and peace education programs.

One of the key elements of PPNI's approach is its focus on bringing young people from different communities together in a safe and inclusive space. The organisation works closely with schools, community organisations, and local governments to ensure that its programs are accessible to all young people, regardless of their background.

PPNI's impact has been significant, with many of the young people who have participated in its programs going on to become leaders in their communities and advocates for peace and reconciliation. The organisation has also been recognized for its work, receiving numerous awards and accolades over the years.

Niamh’s Story

One such recent story is that of Niamh Burns.

Through PeacePlayers programmes, Niamh reflects on how she was “given space to learn and grow, learn about and make connections in different communities and, was equipped with the skills and confidence to go back into own community and make a difference.”

Read Niamh’s story

The Ripple Effect

Reflecting on 20 years of impact PeacePlayers Managing Director Gareth Harper said: “Whilst we have achieved much, for the future, we will continue to see it as our business to do ourselves out of business. We will go beyond just creating impact through direct programme delivery. We will focus on sustaining the ripple effect by continuing to build the capacity of the next generation of peace builders.

“Importantly also we will innovate and collaborate to more intentionally tackle the institutional barriers, segregated education; divided neighbourhoods; the sports we play and teams we support; the churches and youth groups we attend; the political parties we vote for, and the attitudes and mindsets of parents and other significant adults, that stand in the way of young people even when they desire change and want to be a part of creating profound change.”

We will innovate and collaborate

As PPNI celebrates its 20th anniversary, the organisation has made a significant contribution to peacebuilding in Northern Ireland. Through the power of sport, PPNI has brought young people together and helped to break down barriers between different communities, laying the foundation for a more peaceful and united future.

The organisation relies on the support of donors to continue its work, and your help and support would be greatly appreciated.

Please consider making a donation to PeacePlayers Northern Ireland today and help support their efforts to bring young people together through the power of sport.

You can help PeacePlayers with a donation