Today’s blog is written by new PPI-ME International Fellow Heba El-Hendi.
September is a special time for PPI – ME because it is when participants and staff come back together for the start of another season. The 2014-2015 season officially kicked off with the annual Professional Development Retreat, which brought together coaches from Tamra, Nahariya, and Jerusalem. The retreat aimed to help coaches refresh and diversify drills and to boost their capacities in leading activities while simultaneously bonding the players and coaches. With the opportunity to work with Vito Gilic, PPI – ME’s Basketball Operations Manager, coaches refined their drills and left rejuvenated and encouraged to begin this next season. In addition to the coaches, the retreat also included participants from the brand new All Star team from Nahariya and Tamra along with Leadership Development Program (LDP) youth from Jerusalem who helped demonstrate drills on the court.
For the Tamra and Nahariya All Stars, the coaches’ retreat also provided the chance for team members to bond and work on practical skills. Last year, Nahariya and Tamra began twinning together, and because of their cohesion and potential, PPI – ME worked with both communities to create a new All Stars team in the north of Israel that would serve the twinned team. This year, the Nahariya/Tamra All Star team will begin competing against unaffiliated teams in the Israel Basketball Association youth league, and we wish them great success!
On the second day of the retreat, coaches demonstrated their coaching skills by leading a practice on their own using some of the new drills. The coaches themselves were paired up in an attempt to improve lead coach and assistant coach cohesion. Vito gave each coach constructive feedback following the practice sessions so they could finesse their skills.
Some of the coaches, including Aysha, Noi, Khaled and Duha, are actually the products of the LDP, having earned their coaches’ training and certification through PPI – ME. The majority of LDP graduate coaches have been a part of PeacePlayers for numerous years. As a new member of the PeacePlayers family, it was thrilling to see this long-term impact the program is making. I witnessed the support and fluidity of friendship the LDP and LDP graduate coaches had with each other.
A PeacePlayer’s retreat wouldn’t be complete without a basketball game. During the evening, the coaches, LDP, and All Starts split into teams and used their skills on the court. The players ran up and down the court with energy and competitive spirit.
This was my first experience with PPI -ME. It was a full emersion orientation that helped me better understand how PeacePlayers works. I had the opportunity to meet and connect with the Nahariya/Tamra All Stars by helping lead group challenge activities. As with almost any group challenge activity, the girls became frustrated as they tried to solve the given task, but with time and new communication strategies, they were able to complete the task and celebrated their victory together. This year, I’ll primarily be working with teams in the North, so I’m excited I had the chance to meet some of the players in a setting as welcoming as the Professional Development Retreat.