Co-Founders of PeacePlayers International (PPI), Brendan and Sean Tuohey, were presented with the prestigious Laureus Sport for Good Award, which honors individuals who make a contribution to society through sport, at the ninth annual Laureus World Sports Awards in St. Petersburg, Russia on February 18, 2008. Past winners of this award include Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Kip Keino and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Laureus World Sports Awards Ceremony recognizes the achievements of sports stars and showcases the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, a partner in the work of PeacePlayers International in South Africa and Cyprus. Other honorees, such as Roger Federer, Justine Henin, Sergey Bubka and the South African Rugby Team, took the stage along Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, and Cuba Gooding Jr., who hosted the event.
Since its inception in 2001, Peace Players International has reached more than 45,000 children in global conflict areas, launching international programmes in Israel and the West Bank, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Cyprus and New Orleans in the United States, using basketball as the means to bring young people together.
The love of basketball is part of the Tuohey DNA. As the son of the chairman of the Washington DC Sports Commission, Sean Tuohey grew up with the dream of one day playing for a top team in the NBA. After college he travelled to Ireland to play basketball and began to coach Catholic and Protestant children together. He soon realised that sport could be a way to break down generations of hatred. Following the first PPI project in Northern Ireland, his attention was directed to South Africa.
He explains “Basketball was a new sport to both countries. In Northern Ireland, Catholic kids played Gaelic sports like hurling and Protestants played rugby. In South Africa, black kids played soccer and the white kids played cricket. Basketball is neutral.”
The Touheys contribution has been recognised by many organisations and individuals over the years. Brendan Tuohey participated in the Clinton Global Initiative in 2005, 2006 and 2007. On April 1, 2006, former United States President Bill Clinton recognised Brendan at a press conference announcing plans for the 2006 Clinton Global Initiative. President Clinton spoke about Peace Players International's project in Israel and the West Bank, applauding the organisation's efforts to “promote understanding, tolerance and peace among Jewish, Israeli Arab and Palestinian youth.”
The brothers have received many awards. In December 2004, they were named Top 100 Irish-Americans by Irish America, in December 2005, they were named ‘Washingtonians of the Year' by Washingtonian magazine and in October 2007, Brendan Tuohey was chosen as one of the 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in the United States by the Institute for International Sport.
PPI's commitment does not end on the court. In South Africa there is also a life skills programme where coaches meet before practice to discuss HIV/AIDS, drugs, alcohol, racism, sexism and conflict resolution. AIDS awareness messages have been distributed around the 60 basketball courts that have been built. The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation is an enthusiastic supporter of the project.