’Peace Players’ from Northern Ireland, Trevor Ringland and Dave Cullen, to Receive Arthur Ashe Courage Award at The 2007 ESPYs
ESPN will Televise The 2007 ESPYs co-presented by HUMMER and Under Armour from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre Sunday, July 15, 2007 at 9 p.m. ET
Two men born in Northern Ireland on opposite sides of the violent 30-year conflict known as “The Troubles” have brought Protestant and Catholic children together to play basketball, with the goal of building a new, peaceful future and breaking down the walls that have divided the country that they love. For their work with PeacePlayers (formerly Playing for Peace), an organization founded to bring enemies together through basketball, Trevor Ringland, a Protestant rugby star and Dave Cullen, a Catholic who grew up using basketball to escape from the realities of war, will receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at The 2007 ESPYs co-presented by HUMMER and Under Armour from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre, Sunday, July 15 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. Presented annually to individuals whose contributions transcend sports, the Ashe Award is the emotional pinnacle of the industry-wide sports celebration, which will be hosted this year by LeBron James and Jimmy Kimmel. A short documentary profiling this year’s recipients and narrated by Christian Slater will be presented at The ESPYs.
“This year the Arthur Ashe Award honors two men who refused to listen to those who taught them to hate and instead are courageously teaching hope and quietly working to unite a nation,” said Maura Mandt, executive producer of The 2007 ESPYs. “Trevor and Dave have seized an opportunity to help children realize that their ‘enemy’ has a face that is just like their own. “
Both men saw firsthand what the hate did then and continues to do today. Dave Cullen’s father was killed during the Troubles. He watched the police ransack his home on a daily basis, and saw the same police threaten his mother. Trevor Ringland saw the world from the other side. The son and grandson of policemen, he saw his father check under his car each day to make sure there wasn’t a bomb, and knew that each time his mother and father said goodbye in the morning they were careful to do so on good terms as they were always aware it could be their last.
Both men were recruited to PeacePlayers International by Americans Brendan and Sean Tuohey (whose family founded the organization) to bring children in Belfast together through sport. In January, they worked to create a basketball mixer, or “Twinner,” that would bring together children from two schools caught in the ugly crossfire of the conflict: Holy Cross Catholic school and Wheatfield Protestant school which are separated by just 30 feet. After heated debate, a threat from parents of a blockade and difficult negotiations, the event took place in April of this year, with 10-year old girls – Protestants and Catholics alike – having fun and learning basketball from the PeacePlayers coaches.
PeacePlayers International’s Executive Director Brendan Tuohey said, "Trevor and David exemplify the power of sport to unite, inspire and transform. Their work with PeacePlayers International is breaking down legacies of hatred and mistrust between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. We believe that there is hope in divided regions around the globe and that it lies with young people.”
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