This past weekend, players from the North, including the Tamra-Nahariya All-Stars, and Nahariya and Tamra younger girls’ teams came together for a retreat in the Northern Galilee. With the backdrop of beautiful natural scenery, the young players came to strengthen their bonds and improve their basketball skills.
Tamra and Nahariya began their Twinning partnership almost two years ago. While they have made great progress at building relationships through the Twinnings and league play, they still needed some more concentrated time together to solidify those bonds. This goes to say that by the end of the trip the girls left the retreat knowing each other better.
Leading by example is a great mantra of PeacePlayers-Middle East. Constituting the first-ever Palestinian-Israeli league team in Jeursalem, the Jerusalem All-Stars have been playing together competitively for over four years, and most of them are part of the Leadership Development Program (LDP). Over the years, the Jerusalem participants have built mutual respect and true, genuine friendships. And because they have been through the process of PeacePlayers, who knows better than them on how to guide the younger PeacePlayers generations?
During the retreat, the Jerusalem All-Stars led team-building activities that focused on challenging the participants to work as a team and to cooperate towards a greater goal. Whether it was trying to fit through a rope course or balance a hula-hoop, the players rose to the challenges. Toot, an Israeli player on the Jerusalem All-Stars and a facilitator of the peace education activities, said, “Leading the activity for the girls reminded me of my first years in PPI. Like the younger All-Stars players, I struggled and I’m still struggling, with the same difficulties: language, cultural differences, and outside criticism. The most important message I wanted to pass on to these girls was to help them acknowledge their major power as a team and as individuals inside PeacePlayers.”
The social, group-building activities are important to the team because it helps them be better players on the court. Yet, having high level basketball skills is equally important, and this is where PPI – ME Basketball Operations Manger Vito Gilic came in. Throughout the retreat he led basketball trainings for each team, helping the players continue focusing and improving their form and abilities to play better together. In the end, the coaches, players, and staff felt that the retreat accomplished the goals set. Ben, one of the co-coaches of the Tamra-Nahariya All Stars team, said, “The retreat was very fun and contributed to the purpose of the team.”