Family Zoom meetings, Facetime video calls, WhatsApp messages, online grocery orders – most of us depend on digital tools like these during the coronavirus lockdown.

However, many elderly people do not know how to use such technologies, leaving them in extreme isolation.

Soccer players, managers and fans of the Beitar Millennium Jerusalem Football Club have jumped into the breach, volunteering to teach digital skills to local seniors who have expressed a need and desire for assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The “Sympathy for Older Persons” project was launched in collaboration with the National Digital Israel Initiative of the Ministry of Social Equality, the JDC-Eshel social R&D incubator, and the Jerusalem municipality.

“A long-term program developed over the past few months has been accelerated and adapted to the current situation and the impact of the coronavirus on older persons,” explains Beitar Jerusalem spokesman Assaf Nachum.

“A needs survey shows that many older persons need support in digital skills to make better use of their smartphones, WhatsApp calls, photo sharing and access to trusted information and leisure activities over the phone,” Nachum says.

The overall strategy for the initiative was developed by a team led by Beitar Jerusalem Community Liaison Hagar Ohana and public-health specialist Dr. Inon Schenker.

The Beitar volunteers are trained in groups of 50 by JDC-Eshel experts with the support of the National Digital Israel Initiative. Then they are ready to offer phone-based practical assistance to the elderly in collaboration with the Jerusalem municipality. Each volunteer must commit to at least one month of educating elders.

Nachum says two cohorts have gone through the training so far, and more will be recruited and trained as long as there is a need.

Serial entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg, owner of the Beitar Millennium Football Club, said the project “connects to our central message of ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ Every fan with basic digital knowledge has the opportunity to help here and bring happiness to the elderly with simple actions that may even save lives.”