In today’s post, Aran puts PPI – Middle East’s various programs in context, taking us from a team’s initial practice all the way to where we hope each of our players ends up, giving back to the next generation of PeacePlayers.
Most PPI – ME teams practice regularly within their local communities twice each week. Twice each month, they meet another team from the “other” community for a joint practice called a “Twinning.” The first challenge for any team is to get to know each other, and within PPI – ME this happens on three levels – first, amongst a team’s players themselves; second, between the young PeacePlayers and their coach; and finally, amongst all the members of two twinned teams.
One example is the program at the Keshet School in West Jerusalem where PPI – ME engages some 40 children, all of them new to basketball and new to PPI – ME. Before their coach could introduce them to their twined team from East Jerusalem, he had to gain their trust. This was accomplished by through a series of activities with three goals: to introduce the children to the game of basketball, to have fun (and through this fun, to build trust), and to prepare the children to meet their twinned team using PPI – ME’s key values and teachings. Last week, on a rainy day in Jerusalem, the two Keshet teams went through special classes that are based on the curriculum developed by PPI in partnership with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and the Arbinger Institute. In this class the children learned that every person on a team is important, no matter how small their role sometimes seems. Coaches will later build on this lesson to illustrate to children how any one person is equal to any other person.
The program in the Arab community of Ein Raffa presented even more complex challenges, since the team’s coach is Jewish and does not speak Arabic. He has with him a translator from the community. In four months of practice, the team developed some special signals and code words. Though most of them don’t speak English, all the children know what the “baseline” is and how to assume the basic defensive stance in basketball. Progress is slow, but communication between the players and their coach is running more smoothly every practice.
The ideal for all of our participants are the All Stars teams and the Boys LDP team. These teams are fully integrated. They are made of youth that understand not only the codes and tactics of basketball, but also the special mission of PeacePlayers International – to understand the lessons of equality and of seeing people as people, to be open towards the “other” and act according to these lessons, taking them outside of the basketball court to their communities. In the first MiniFest of the season, help a couple of months ago, the LDP boys and girls acted as instructors to our younger PeacePlayers. The young PeacePlayers have a long road ahead of them before they are able to live out this vision of openness and acceptance. Luckily, they have PPI – ME’s veterans to guide them.