Palestinian, Jewish girls join together for soccer practice

‘It is our responsibility to build a better reality of hope and peace here,’ to prove that ‘the other is not very different,’ Peres Center educational director said.

August 19, 2019 16:36
2 minute read.
Palestinian and Israeli youth play soccer together

Palestinian and Israeli youth play soccer together. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Palestinian and Jewish soccer players cooperated in a joint training session Sunday in Shefayim.

The unlikely event between young, female players was held in cooperation with the Chelsea Women’s Football Club, the Israeli Football Association (IFA) and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, as part of the “Twin Schools for Sports and Peace” program, which uses soccer to help build a bridge between the two populations.

The training session is part of a series of events being held in cooperation with Chelsea and the IFA ahead of their scheduled match, which is set to take place on Tuesday evening.
Chelsea’s manager Emma Hayes took to the field with players Anita Asante and Deanna Cooper to participate in this joint training. It also included professional field training and a special leadership workshop. All activities were conducted in three languages: Hebrew, Arabic and English.
The Chelsea team talked to the young women about being role models, about their love of soccer and their dreams, as well as the need for equality on and off the field, Tami Hay Sagiv, director of the Education Department of the Peres Center, told The Jerusalem Post.
“Chelsea’s professional team of coaches, two leading players and Israeli national team players led professional soccer training and taught the girls new techniques such as footwork, passing the football as well as cooperation and teamwork on the field,” Sagiv said, describing the day. “The fact that there were professional football players raised the level of excitement and was truly inspiring.”
The Post asked Sagiv what it means for her to bring these two groups together.
“For us, every encounter is a long-term investment in building the future generation,” she said. “It is our responsibility to build a better reality of hope and peace here. The sessions and activities prove to the girls again and again that in the end, the ‘other’ is not very different.
“And even if there is a difference, there is no need to feel intimidated and afraid of it,” she continued. “And you see that on the field. Through football in particular and sports in general, they see that they can cooperate despite all the challenges and barriers, and realize that they have a common goal.”
Sagiv said that she helps run the program because she believes in its ability to impact change.
“With the younger generation it is always hopeful, because you really see that they understand: that there is a real foundation for collaboration here,” she told the Post. “We hope that such programs will continue to expand as much as possible. We are trying to build peace from the bottom up.”

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