Why | what | how
Cyprus has been a divided island as the result of the war of 1974. Due to its geographical position, the island has a rich multicultural character and the two largest communities on the island comprise of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. During the war of 1974, roughly a third of the country’s population was forcefully displaced, becoming refugees in their own country.
Today, people are still suffering under almost half a century of division and countless families cannot return to their homes. Greek and Turkish Cypriots are still divided by a physical border. The current lack of interaction between our communities, as well as the lack of a common vision, further promote the disunity and estrangement between the people.
Despite the political negotiations that attempt to reunite the country under a peaceful solution, we believe that there is not enough happening on a community level to promote peace and restore trust between the people.
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”
Winds of Change, aims to give rise to the first bi-communal Cypriot sailing team to sail around the divided island together. The project creates an opportunity for young people from all over the island to come together and join a journey with a common purpose.
We highlight the use of sport as a powerful peace catalyst. Winds of Change wants to challenge, empower, and inspire young people to connect and to build peace together. Our project fosters mutual understanding, celebrates our diversity and promotes the sense of belonging to a common team with a common vision.
Challenge young people to move outside their comfort zone in order to create a more peaceful future for themselves and the future generations.
Develop strong leadership, team-building, and communication skills in addition to learning fundamental sailing and water awareness skills to help them to safely embark on this journey.
Through our journey, inspire others to increase bi-communal activities on the island and encourage the further use of sport as a peace catalyst.
Promote friendship, dialogue, understanding, and collaboration between the communities, and foster a common vision.
With the support of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Young Leaders Programme, our Founder, Sophia Papamichalopoulos OLY, has developed this unique project for young Cypriots between 18-35. After a series of workshops, a team of six (three Greek Cypriots and three Turkish Cypriots) will be selected to join an intense sailing training, aiming to create the first bi-communal Cypriot team that will sail around the divided island together.
- Phase 1 – Team Development
- Phase 2 – Sailing Skills
- Phase 3 – Challenge
- Phase 4 – Outreach
Meet our Founder
Dr. Sophia Papamichalopoulos OLY
Sophia is a former alpine skier who represented Cyprus at the Olympic Games in Vancouver 2010. As an Olympian, she is a firm believer that sport can change people’s lives. Her work as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) Young Leader has focused on using sport to promote peace in her country. Being a daughter of a refugee family from Famagusta, Sophia wants to contribute to a better and more peaceful future for her country. While she is currently a medical doctor in the Department of Visceral Surgery and Transplantation at the University Hospital of Zurich, she remains actively involved in the sport world and the Olympic Movement. Sophia is a member of the World Sailing Medical Commission since 2018. In 2023, Sophia was appointed by IOC President Thomas Bach to the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission and the IOC Olympic Programme Commissions.