Israel’s first NBA player, Omri Casspi, ran a basketball clinic for 100 Israeli and Palestinian children in the annual event of the Twinned Peace Basketball Schools project, a Peres Center for Peace and Al Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue initiative.
On September 1, at the Arab-Jewish Community Center, in Jaffa, adjacent to Tel Aviv, the Sacramento Kings player gave professional basketball instruction to children from Sderot, Kiryat Malachi, Be’er Tuvia, Jaffa, Ein Rafah, Jericho and Beit Sahor.
For the past seven years, in the framework of the project, children aged five to 13 have received bi-weekly basketball instruction, as well as language enrichment in Arabic and Hebrew. Each child also receives a basketball kit with uniforms and equipment.
The children meet once a month with their ‘twin’ school or kindergarten and participate in sports, group cohesion, and peace education activities that culminate in a competitive tournament in which each of the pairs of twinned schools competes as a unified team.
The Twinned Peace Sports Schools has been awarded a number of prestigious international awards, most recently the 2010 Wingate Award.
Omri Casspi said: “My experience has shown me that basketball has the power to bridge language, cultural and religious differences and I am happy to be able to share my experience with the children…”