Soccer: Mixed Arab-Jewish youth team finds success in Spain

Galilee United returns home after securing second place in the Arsenal Iberian Trophy for Peace.

arab israeli team 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy )
arab israeli team 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy )
Galilee United returned home Tuesday after securing second place in the Arsenal Iberian Trophy for Peace. After a 5-0 win against SoccerPro Academy Lisboa from Portugal, the Arab-Jewish Israeli youth soccer team lost in the finals to the Arsenal Soccer School in Spain. Alan Sefton, who directs Arsenal soccer schools worldwide, called the tournament an absolute success. "It was one of the best performances I've seen from an Israeli select team," Sefton said. An unusually diverse team of six Jewish, three Christian, three Muslim and four Druse boys selected from the Arsenal in the Galilee soccer school represented Israel. Galilee United players Loai Horani and Riyad Jabor received awards for being the top-players on their team. But, the peace tournament scored goals on and off the field. According to Ken Jones, president of Arsenal Soccer Club Costa del Sol and organizer of the tournament, Galilee United raised awareness for many children who were previously unaware of the tense cultural situation in Israel. "It was good for there boys to see that life isn't easy everywhere," Jones said. Over 600 Jews, Muslims and Christians live peacefully in the southern coast of Spain, where the tournament was held. According to Shalom Liav, the project coordinator for Arsenal in the Galilee, the tournament raised awareness for members of the Galilee team, many of which had never been outside of Israel before. "It was an eye opener for the kids to see other cultures," Liav said. For Sefton, friendly tournaments like this are another step toward peace that can only be accomplished by youth. "The adults concern themselves with lofty concepts of peace, but the children can lead by example to different nationalities, races and religions," Sefton said.