Soccer Unites Israeli and Arab Children

Israeli Palestinian Soccer

Despite the regional tensions Israeli and Arab children have managed to put their differences aside and focus on one of the things that unites them; soccer. Perhaps there may be a ray of hope for peace yet. As part of the Equalizer project, Israeli and Arab children from northern towns and villages gathered last week at Kiryat Shimona municipal stadium for a soccer tournament.

The Equalizer, a project sponsored by the British embassy in Israel, aims to improve society and strengthen relationships between Arab and Israeli town in the north on the basis and values of tolerance and mutual respect with the focus of education and the love of sports.

The soccer teams that were established in the participating schools gather to meet four times a week, as part of Equalizer. The players receive two training sessions a week from a certified coach. The children also meet at study centers where they provided with tutoring and are offered help with their homework and preparing for their upcoming exams.

Likewise, all the teams from the northern region of Israel participate in a soccer tournament once a month.

Kiryat Shimona Mayor Nissim Malka and Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat, as well as the professional players from Ironi Shimona Football Club, attended last week's tournament to cheer the children on and lend their moral support.

"The best players come out of the more remote places, and I have seen some really good players here," Barak Badash told Ynet News. "This is a very positive project, which advances values of sharing and tolerance and brings different populations together."

During the event, Israeli Arab journalist Zoher Bahalul said that sports and soccer knows no difference between Arabs and Jews. He said on Ynet News, "And why is there no difference? Because in the locker room everyone takes off their regular clothes and puts on sports clothes, wears the same color, the same pants, and puts on the same shoes, and that's why sports bridges between all people – between a black person, a white person, a Jew or an Arab."

Learn more about the Equalizer Project here: http://league.org.il/en/the-project/