Soccer Tournament Donated by Marx Foundation.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
Children and teenagers of Ethiopian descent from all over Israel participated in soccer clubs thanks to a contribution from the Marx Foundation in Germany, together with KKL-JNF and the Mifalot – Education, Society and Equality NGO. In 2016, the Foundation decided to support projects that further Israel’s Ethiopian community in cultural and social fields, including the sports program known as “The Game of Life”. The program includes the establishment of five soccer teams who train for the year’s highlight event – a tournament that took place in Tel Aviv.
“Anyone who loves soccer has no problem finding a common language,” said Nitzan Zohari, Mifalot Central Region Director. “By means of sports, we promote the values of equality, leadership, fraternity and a healthy way of life.”
About 600 children from sixty different groups took part in the tournament, which took place at the Hapoel Tel Aviv soccer club training grounds. Participants included boys and girls of all religions and cultures from throughout Israel. This is the second time that this event took place this year. Last year it was held at Yerucham in the south.
“The tournament is a highpoint that the children are really excited about, and we, the staff, are at least as excited as they are,” said Kobi Mamo, Mifalot Coastal Plain and Jerusalem Director. “One the field, everyone is equal, it makes no difference where you come from.” Gon Tzuri, Mifalot Southern Region Director, emphasized that soccer teams provide an answer to the educational and social needs of neighborhood children that schools are not always able to provide.
“Children from different places are meeting today and discovering that the love of soccer brings them together,’ said Liat Heletz-Sofrin, Mifalot Resource Development Director. “Even if we don’t produce the next Ronaldo, the children learn that they can realize their dreams and be successful in life.”
At the beginning of the academic year, another Marx Foundation program awarded scholarships to ten outstanding students of Ethiopian descent who are studying social work and art therapy for bachelors and masters degrees. In the field of culture, the foundation supported an Ethiopian dance performance, which will be performed this summer by the Inbal Theater.
All these various activities were made possible thanks to the generosity of Paula and Hermann Marx, who requested in their will that a foundation be established to promote culture, society and needy segments of Israeli society. Avigail Arnheim, Paula Marx’s niece, represented the family at the event. “My aunt always aspired to support people who struggle to make a living,” she said, “including students and other people with difficulties. This year, we chose to focus on the Ethiopian community in order to make certain that Ethiopian youth will feel that they are an integral part of Israeli society. It’s very exciting to see the children playing together on the field.”
Sarah Singer, President of KKL Germany, was unable to participate in the event, but she sent her greetings, in which she expressed how moved she was, along with her gratitude to the Marx Foundation. “We are happy and proud to be partners to such a beautiful project, which contributes to society and the community.”
Tournament participants included a team from Kiryat Gat that was established thanks to the Marx Foundation. “If not for the foundation’s contribution, many of the children from the neighborhood would not have been able to afford this activity,” said Coach Uri Eshkol gratefully. “The team gives the children a sense of security and a feeling that they’re as good as anyone else and can be as successful as they want.”
More about the tournament