Busy, in a good way, summer for Peres Center for Peace

The Peres Center for Peace “is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization founded in 1996 by President of Israel and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mr. Shimon Peres, with the aim of furthering his vision in which people of the Middle East region work together to build peace through socio-economic cooperation and development, and people-to-people interaction.”  Along with Medicine & Healthcare, Agriculture, Water & Environment, and Civil Society Dialogue and Cooperation, the Center has program involving Sport. Below are some highlights from its work ths summer.

You can learn more about the Center and its work in sport and development at http://peres-center.org/Sport.html.

Football Village of Hope camp
Over 100 underprivileged Palestinian and Israeli children came together for the second annual Football Village of Hope camp, which fosters mutual understanding, builds lasting friendships, and creates a new generation of youth advocates for peace. The camp is run jointly by the Peres Center Sport Department and the Palestinian organization, the Al-Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue. The children played, learned, and lived together, enjoying football, swimming and other sports, educational and cultural activities, and peace education workshops. In addition to their Israeli and Palestinian coaches, the children were joined by professionals from the Football Association of Ireland. They visited the training ground of Israel’s Premier League champions Maccabi Haifa, and met the players. Football Village of Hope is organized with the help of Milo Corcoran, former President of the Football Association of Ireland and current Chairman of the FAI’s International Committee and by Ophir Zardok, former manager of Drogheda United FC.

The camp is generously funded by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, through the Irish Aid program and is supported by Minister Michéal Martin and his predecessor, Minister Dermot Ahern. A reflection from Anwar, the head Palestinian Coach: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the kids to meet ‘the other side’ and to work together on the common goal of a better future.”

Coach’s Training Seminar
A pre-season Coach’s Training Seminar was held for 50 Palestinian and Israeli coaches from the Twinned Peace Sport Schools (TPSS) project. The seminar enhanced the coaches’ skills and better equipped them to guide the youth participants. A new Peace and Sport manual was circulated and a new bilingual website was launched that will enable the coaches to keep in touch with each other. In light of the fact that the standard of education in any field is ultimately influenced by the ability of the educators, continuous training is imperative for the coaches, who teach over 1,500 TPSS youngsters annually.

Twinned Peace Basketball travels to Spain
Thirteen children from the Twinned Peace Basketball Schools project travelled to Spain to participate in the Youth Campus Basketball Camp, which was jointly sponsored by Casa Sefarad-Israel and the Basketball Foundation for Culture and Society. The children were from the Israeli community of Kiryat Gat and the Arab-Israeli community of Ein Rafa. They were joined by a delegation of 15 Spanish child cancer survivors, organized by the Fundacion Cesare Scariolo. In addition to their intense schedule of basketball and fitness training the children enjoyed a visit to see the national basketball team practice and an opportunity to play in a streetball tournament. World basketball champions Pau and Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernández, Calderón, Garbajosa, Ricky Rubio, and Felipe Reyes, took part in their daily basketball training sessions and shared in the promotion of multiculturalism and integration through sport.