From July 27 – 31, Philadelphia 76ers Head Coach, Brett Brown, and Villanova University’s Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Jay Wright, visited PPI – Middle East to coach Palestinian and Israeli basketball players from PPI’s teams in East and West Jerusalem, the northern town of Tamra and central town of Kfar Saba.
During the trip, Wright told reporter Mary Knight of the Catholic News Service, “The goal was to use the sport to enable Arabs and Jews to concentrate on the game of basketball — their skills and the needs of each other as teammates — and to look past the conflict and see each other as human beings, with the ultimate goal being to transform the relationships of Jews and Arabs in the younger generation.” (Read the Full Article).
The coaches were joined by Charge d’Affairs, U.S Embassy Tel Aviv, Bill Grant, Mission Director, USAID West Bank/Gaza, Dave Harden, and representatives of the U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem including Consul General, Donald Blome, and Cultural Attache, Robin Solomon. Brown and Wright also participated in leadership and conflict resolution workshops led by PPI Chairman Emeritus and Founder of the Shapiro Negotiations Institute, Ron Shapiro, PPI Board Member and adidas General Manager for South East Europe, Lawrence Norman, and PPI Board Member and ESPN NBA Insider, Chad Ford.
Coach Brown said, “It was incredible to see firsthand just how impactful basketball can be in bringing together young people from both sides of one of the world’s toughest conflicts. In coaching them, I saw how dedicated they are to both becoming better players and people; if peace between Israelis and Palestinians is achieved, these will be the kids behind it.”
Thank you to USAID West Bank/Gaza, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and PPI Board Member Arn Tellem for their support.