Last weekend, PeacePlayers International – Middle East (PPI-ME) hosted a retreat for its coaches in Kibbutz Sdot Yam, near Caesarea. There are few things more important to the success of PPI-ME than its coaches, so it’s very important to offer them training in both basketball coaching and peace-building. The retreat provided an opportunity to do just that, all while spending quality time with them.
The event also benefited from the expertise of Vito Gilic, who is the former head coach of the Croatian Women’s National Team. He has coached all over Europe for the last 17 years as one of the best teachers of the game in Israel. His experience, preparation, and creativity offered the PPI-ME coaches a chance to learn practical drills to add to their repertoire. PPI-ME’s Leadership Development Program (LDP) was on hand to continue their education as young coaches.
The retreat began with Vito demonstrating unique coaching drills with the assistance of the LDP, who ran through the drills. The coaches watched from the sidelines taking notes as Vito led the LDP through many unique drills that combined difficult situations for hand-eye coordination, foot work, reaction-time, and shot-making.
In collaboration with Vito, peace education facilitators Renana Gal and Nissreen Najjar led an insightful activity in the afternoon. They first met with the coaches to setup a simulation with the LDP that immediately followed. Renana explained, “We wanted to give the coaches a more holistic experience of what we are doing at PPI. We wanted them to go back to the way they were as players.”
PeacePlayers creates opportunities for its participants to view others as human beings like themselves instead of as objects to use or avoid. The coaches are immensely important as they must also understand their players and then foster it in their players and PPI participants. Renana continued, “For the coaches to have empathy to what their players are going through, it is important for us to put the coaches in the same shoes they once wore… as basketball players.” The activity put the coaches and LDP together on the court playing. The teams were mixed up so you had both coaches and LDPers on each team. Throughout the activity, Vito continued to adjust the situations on the court to keep everyone guessing and allow the coaches to feel the vulnerability and lack of control that comes with being a player. Following the activity, the coaches and LDP came together with Nissreen and Renanan to discuss the activities. According to Renana it was important for these groups to be together to maximize the understanding.
I asked Alla Barhoom, village head for Ein Rafa, for his perspective regarding the importance of coaching in terms of the impact coaches have on players’ lives. Alla has been taking the PPI-ME Coaching for Reconciliation course this year, and he was on hand at the retreat to learn along with the other coaches and the LDP. “First, it’s so important to have a retreat like this for the coaches that allows us the chance to step back, look inside ourselves, and discuss with each other, alongside experts like Vito, Nissreen, and Renana. Sport is rather low on the priority list in our society, but really it is so important when one considers the impact it has on shaping our lives in such positive ways. That said the impact is rather dependent on the coach’s style and perspective.”