Can sport promote peace?
Karpaz Gate Marina believes it can and is therefore supporting an inspirational project to create the first bi-communal Cypriot sailing team to sail around the divided island of Cyprus together. With a mission to build peace, connection and change through sport, the historic ‘Winds of Change’ journey provides an opportunity for young Greek and Turkish Cypriots to unite for a common purpose. The circumnavigation around Cyprus is scheduled for early September, following team development, selection and training during the summer.
Experiences in the past had shown that sports can bridge cultural and social divides, it encourages dialogue, encourages teamwork and cooperation, promotes fair play and respect, channels energy and aggression positively: sailing will bring the team, from different backgrounds together, foster understanding and tolerance. When the team sails together, they will need to collaborate and by doing that and getting to know each otherunder pressure at times they can break down stereotypes and build relationships based on shared interests and values.
Following the event, the sailors will be ambassadors of a movement to embody change in local society, with significant influence to raise awareness of the need for peace and to inspire positive progress.
Is that enough to solve the Cyprus Problem? Of course not, but while sports and this inspirational sailing project alone cannot solve this complex conflict or guarantee peace, it can be a powerful tool for promoting peacebuilding efforts, fostering understanding, and creating a more peaceful Island.
As a pioneering and acclaimed marina and resort development in Northern Cyprus, located on the Karpaz peninsula, Karpaz Gate Marina identifies the need to promote yacht tourism possibilities and shares the Winds of Change mission to contribute to peacebuilding, reaffirming its position as a positive force in the future growth of yachting and travel tourism for the whole of Cyprus.
Liza Singer, Managing Director at Karpaz Gate Marina, spoke of Sophia Papamichalopoulos, who is leading the project; “When I heard about Sophia’s ambitious idea for the Winds of Change project, I had no hesitation in offering support.
“There is a synergy with the Karpaz Gate Marina development and our vision to lead the development of the region, a lesser-known area of the East Mediterranean, in the yachting community and in the yachting tourism sector. The yachting infrastructure has developed in the 12 years since we opened, but to allow the island as a whole to become a real yachting destination, there is a need for collaboration. Cyprus is an island country, with a vast coastline, and we need to utilise this coastline for the benefit of the entire country, putting political issues aside. We look forward to being part of the Winds of Change project and wish them success.”
Sophia, who grew up as the daughter of refugees, is a former alpine skier and competed at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and was Cyprus’ flagbearer during the closing ceremony. Having grown up next to her local sailing club, she has sailed from a young age. For Sophia, sport was the ideal way for her to inspire peace.
She said: “Our project contributes to peace and conflict prevention by bringing the two divided communities in Cyprus together, inspiring more bi-communal activities on the island and promoting the use of sport in the peace-building process. Ultimately, through this project, we want to challenge, empower and inspire young people in Cyprus and around the world.”
We will continue to report on this exciting and inspirational project over its duration and you can find out more about the project itself by following the project on social media – Winds of Change on Instagram and LinkedIn.