Despite the peace roadblock faced by the two communities on the divided island, young Cypriots from both sides of the Green Line are still looking for ways to get together through sport.
A rare bicommunal tennis tournament between young male and female players from both sides of the divide took place at Larnaca’s Herodotou Tennis Academy last month.
It was organised by an 18-year-old tennis player and American Academy Larnaca student, Christos Zonias.
Such sports events are seen as a perfect example of small-scale confidence-building measures the UN supports.
The idea for the “tennis tournament of friendship and peaceful coexistence” stemmed from Christos’ experience at a tournament abroad.
“A few hours before my doubles match, I was informed by the organisers that my partner refused to play with me when he discovered that I was from Cyprus and he was Turkish.
“For me, that’s totally unacceptable, sports should unite people, not separate them, and politics do not have a place in sports.
“This is why upon my return to Cyprus, I decided to organise a tennis tournament, the sport I love and dedicate most of my life to.
“The goal was to bring together Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot tennis players and create an atmosphere of friendship, peace, and coexistence.
“We need more events like this if we want to have long-lasting peace on our island and solve the 48-year-long Cyprus problem,” Christos told the Financial Mirror.
The event was attended by US Ambassador Judith, G. Garber, Slovak Ambassador Martin Bezak, Italian Ambassador Federica Bravo, the Political Affairs Officer of the UN-OSASG-Cyprus, Arnaud Amouroux and the Mayors of Larnaca and Aradippou.
Christos wants to continue being integral to the efforts to bring the two communities closer. He has been in touch with the Monaco-based Peace and Sport independent organisation to include the event on their future agenda, and they have pledged to do so.