Global perspective Human stories

Basketball stars join UN to promote understanding between Greek, Turkish youths

Basketball stars join UN to promote understanding between Greek, Turkish youths

Two professional basketball stars will lead a group of youngsters from Turkey and Greece for the second annual “Basketball without Borders” camp this summer, an international effort to promote friendship and educate teens from both countries about the dangers of drug use, the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) said today.

From 5 to 8 July in Istanbul, Hidayet Turkoglu and Predrag Stojakovic, who are teammates on the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Sacramento Kings in the United States, will lead other Turkish and Greek professional players in coaching the 50 selected 12 to 14-year-olds in basketball instruction and competition. Mr. Turkoglu is a native of Turkey and Mr. Stojakovic, originally from Yugoslavia, played professionally in Greece for several years.

Divided into four teams without regard to their nationality, the youngsters will participate in UN-led intended to promote leadership, conflict resolution and living a healthy life without drugs.

"Basketball without Borders is an excellent example of the growing spirit of understanding between Greece and Turkey," said Ambassador Sumru Noyan, UNDCP Director for Operations and Analysis. "It is my hope that the young campers from the two countries will show the people of the world that their common love of basketball and a desire to live a healthy life free of drugs can help promote stronger ties between Turkey and Greece."

For his part, NBA Commissioner David Stern said sports had an "unparalleled ability" to stimulate important discussions among people who might otherwise not be brought together. "Basketball without Borders is an opportunity for the international basketball community to use the global popularity of our sport to deliver messages to a diverse group of young people about the importance of tolerance, peace, education and the fight against drugs," he said.