More than 100 Jewish and Arab children aged eight to 12 came together in Israel earlier this week to take part in a “Sporting in the Service of Peace” soccer event celebrating coexistence.
The kids gathered at an Arab-Israeli local council in Abu Ghosh for the project — now in its 20th year – sponsored by the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, a Jaffa-based nonprofit founded by late Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
The project aims to bring together diverse communities from across the country through educational sports programs developed by the Peres Center.
At the end of each full program year, all participants meet for a mini World Cup-themed tournament — along with international ambassadors, local mayors, and professional Israeli soccer players — for a day of games and activities.
This year marks the first time since the breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic that children from Palestinian Authority territories were able to participate in the event.
Director General of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation Efrat Duvdevani said: “We are bringing children together and teaching them how to work through challenges with their common passion of soccer. We’re teaching them to see each other as they are, understanding each other’s languages, each other’s gestures. This is a very important project for us; we have seen that even during times of crisis, this project helped the children keep in touch with each other, and also their families.”