Mifalot combats trauma with ‘soccer as therapy’ model

The organization's campaign aims to launch yearlong post-trauma soccer programs for children living along the Gaza border

By HENRY ROSENBLOOM
December 11, 2014 06:27
2 minute read.
Soccer

Soccer-loving children who participated in Mifalot's Football Marathon in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Mifalot, the largest sport development organization in the Middle East, kicked off a fundraising campaign to bring post-trauma sport programming to the children of southern Israel with the first-ever Israel Football Marathon in late November The initiative continued with a crowdfunding campaign to raise further funds to use soccer as a post-trauma tool for children living in the region.

In the wake of Operation Protective Edge this past summer, when Israel saw over 3,000 rockets fired at its communities from the Gaza Strip, the campaign aims to launch yearlong post-trauma soccer programs for children living along the Gaza border.

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The programs will use soccer as a tool to empower, educate and help children deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath of this summer’s rocket fire.

In addition, Mifalot looks to rebuild a soccer field damaged by rocket fire at Kibbutz Mefalsim, located approximately one kilometer km from Gaza to serve as the center for these educational programs.

Mifalot Chinuch was founded Sami Segol, Moti Orenstein and Moshe Teomimas, then owners of Hapoel Tel Aviv FC in 1997.

Mifalot’s local success has translated into new international initiatives as well.

Operating under the simple idea that soccer can be used as a therapy tool for children, the organization has partnered with communities and organizations, adapting its simple motto to aid local needs in Jordan, Palestine, Rwanda, Haiti, Cameroon, Nigeria and Philippines.



“We’re incredibly excited to launch this campaign to help the children of southern Israel who have lived under constant rocket fire throughout their lives. Soccer can be an incredible vehicle in helping individuals, particularly children, cope with this trauma,” said Dr. Meir Orenstein, Mifalot CEO. “To bring soccer programs and a new field would be a very special thing for all children in the region.”

These programs would effectively help bring these rocket torn communities back together, as well as provide a positive outlet in these children’s lives that can help them move past the fear that has become part of everyday life.

For PTSD victims, the most normal of daily activities can stimulate the same feeling of trauma, which is one reason that so many PTSD victims have trouble moving past their trauma.

Soccer, Mifalot is hoping, can become an outlet in which these children can escape such haunting feelings by overwhelming them fun and exercise so that when they hear the sound of an icecream truck or a car horn or any loud noise, they are not immediately thrown back into the trauma of a “rocket reality.”

The first-ever Football Marathon was held at Hapoel Tel Aviv’s training facility in south Tel Aviv and featured 18 teams, sponsored by companies throughout Israel including the likes of Adidas, Aroma Israel, Mega Sport, Isracard and more.

Over 300 soccer players participated a total of 126 games, raising thousands of dollars for children in southern Israel.

“The Football Marathon was an incredible event to be a part of and I’m delighted to have been able to participate,” said Noam Gdelyahu of Team Aroma Israel. “It was eye-opening to see so many people having fun in competition and all doing it for a good cause.”

The campaign will continue into early 2015 as Mifalot aims to raise awareness for children suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder and encourage donors around the world to join this initiative. For more information, please visit the website http://igg.me/at/rockets-to-soccer

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