For two weeks a year, over 100 Israeli and Palestinian kids forget about their troubles and play ball.
“Football is the most common language in the world,” says Ophir Zardok, Israeli co-founder of the Football Village of Hope. For the second consecutive year, he and his Irish partner Milo Corcoran have brought together Israeli boys from lower-income towns in southern Israel and Palestinian boys from West Bank towns and villages in an effort to cut through stereotypes.
At the two-week camp, located in the Shveya youth village in northern Israel, more than 100 boys swim, learn each other’s language, get taught to play the Middle Eastern hand drum known as the darbuka and play a lot of football, under the watchful eyes of Irish coaches.
An international effort, the camp is run by the Peres Center for Peace and the Al Kuds Association and funded by Irish Aid from Irelands’ Department of Foreign Affairs, which provides the Irish coaches.
After a week at camp, Ayman, (15) from a Palestinian area in Jerusalem said: “Truthfully, it’s not difficult for Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace together.”