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Kicking goals together: Jewish and Arab youth come together on the field

2016-17 was a fantastic year of sports in the Hachaluz, Education through Sport program - especially in Akko. We had six teams of different ages led by amazing coaches who all live in the educators' kibbutz in Akko.

Out of the six Hachaluz teams in Akko this year, two of them were soccer teams made up of boys and girls aged eight and nine years old. Alon Mintz coached a team of twenty Jewish Israeli players while Ofer Zahavi coached a team of twenty Arab Israeli players. During the year, these teams had combined training sessions and they competed against each other in an end-of-year tournament. Learning new words in Arabic and Hebrew was a main focus of the shared practice sessions which enabled the participants to feel comfortable with one another as well as aid in their communication.

The combined training sessions were very successful in building Arab and Jewish relations through sport. When we asked Alon how the end-of-year tournament went, he stated, "I was really surprised and happy when the players decided that next year they want to all play together on the same team." The year ended on a high note by treating the teams to a pizza night in downtown Akko.

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