As 2012 came to close, PPI – Middle East celebrated with its very first Twinning between two young girls’ teams from Tamra and Haifa. Tamra is an Arab-Muslim town, and while Haifa is a mixed Arab-Jewish city, a large degree of separation exists within the city between Arabs and Jews, in neighborhoods and often even schools. The new Haifa team, a product of a recent cooperation with the basketball club Maccabi Haifa, is an example this separation, and before joining PPI, the girls of the Haifa team had only ever played with other Jews. The Twinning program aims to bring together teams like these, which under normal circumstances would miss out on the opportunity to meet and interact with one another.
Due to the fact that this was the very first meeting between the two groups, the twinning was a bit challenging. Initially the teams sat separately and did not communicate with each other. However, as soon as the coaches encouraged the kids to share information about themselves tensions quickly wore off and the chatter and excitement began. Small, mixed groups were then formed and the kids were able to get to know each other on a more personal level.
It was extraordinary to see just how quickly the girls let their guard down and talked to each other as normal kids do, without any attention being paid to religious or ethnic differences. Tons of fun basketball drills and exciting activities followed these interactive sessions. Each girl was paired up with another girl from the “other group” for team building exercises and crazy relays. The girls embraced one another, as they had to run up and down the court holding a basketball between each other’s bodies without using their hands.
It is during these times that one can truly see the effect that PeacePlayers continues to have on all of its participants. Sport really does provide a medium for these young girls to relate to each other in a unique and unintimidating way. PeacePlayers’ mission is that this type of thinking and behavior will continue to be apparent in every aspect of their life.
The Haifa-Tamra Twinned Team is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Acharai Fund.