On January 1, 2017, PeacePlayers International – Middle East’s (PPI – ME) boys’ and girls’ teams from the cities of Meiser and Kfar Saba met for a fun afternoon of bowling and pizza. There were 47 participants: 22 from Kfar Saba (Jewish), plus their coach Eyal, and 25 from Meiser (Arab), plus their coach Renan. The teams spent over two hours at the bowling alley competing against one another in mixed groups.
This is the second year that the teams from Meiser and Kfar Saba have played together. Meiser is an Arab village in northern Israel and, before PPI – ME started working there, there was no basketball program in the village. Meiser’s coach, Renan, was determined – and still is – to make basketball the new favorite sport in Meiser. Kfar Saba is a Jewish city located about 30 minutes from Meiser. Kfar Saba’s coach, Eyal, works as a full-time coach, and is constantly looking for ways to improve himself and his players. He has been a huge advocate for PPI – ME’s programs and he and Renan have developed a great partnership with their teams.
The kids on Meiser and Kfar Saba have made huge strides since they started twinning together last year. As with most teams, the kids were hesitant at first, but after spending some time together, they relaxed and starting getting close. Their twinnings are always filled with energy, fun and friendly competition. Their coaches often comment that participants on both teams ask when they will next be seeing the kids from the other team. They are really showing signs of developing true friendships.
At the first twinning of this season, we were all curious to see how the participants would respond to seeing one another again and if the connections they’d formed last year would still be there. Immediately, we could tell that they were; when the buses from Meiser and Kfar Saba arrived to meet each other, the participants rushed off to look for their friends from the other team. The hesitancy and nervousness from the previous year before had been replaced with excitement and delight as they raced out onto the basketball court to play with one another.
The twinnings between Meiser and Kfar Saba continue to be exceptional. We have seen even more growth this year because the participants were able to build on the foundation they established last twinning season. The bowling and pizza party was a chance to reward these kids for their commitment and another chance for them to see their friends from the other side. We truly hope that through their unrelenting teamwork and dedication to PPI – ME these two groups will only continue to grow – on and off the court.