Laureus Fosters Arab-Israeli Cooperation

A fundamental ‘value of sport’ philosophy endorsed by Sports Media Canada is using sport to address and mitigate political and social confrontations and concerns and cites the latest Laureus initiative.

A project supported by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation is reducing barriers between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East using sport as a tool for social inclusion and development.

Young Peace Players in Israel

Laureus-supported project PeacePlayers International Middle East (PPI-ME) has proved to be so successful that it is entering four Jewish-Arab teams in the Israel National Basketball League with the two from Jerusalem being the first to feature players from both the east and west of the city.
Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Moses said: “The challenges that exist in the Middle East make it a region of particular importance as far as Laureus is concerned and we’re delighted to see how well this programme is doing to unite children from Jewish and Arab backgrounds.
“Bastketball is a particularly popular sport in Israel and with only five players on any one team, there’s nowhere to hide, which makes it the perfect sport for integrating kids from different cultures.”
Karen Doubilet, managing director of PPI-ME, said: “We are so proud of this precedent-setting accomplishment. PPI is a long-term programme for ages 10 to 15, so you see them developing as teammates and friends. At the start it’s awkward and there’s a language barrier and some kids have never met the ‘other side’ before. As they become better players and a more integrated team, they become better friends, and many friend each other on Facebook.”
More than 300 children were registered in PPI-ME programmes last year with children coming primarily from Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and Jaffa, which targets ethnically and religiously diverse populations, including Ethiopian, Russian and American immigrants, and works toward gender equality through sports in both Jewish and Arab communities.
The youngsters are required to take part at least twice a week and many go as often as five times a week. There are twinned basketball clubs for Arab and Jewish children ages six to 15, which offer joint peace education and life skills activities and also afford them the opportunity to compete on integrated teams of the Jerusalem Peace League and the Jerusalem Girls Basketball League.
There is also a leadership development programme for outstanding 16-year-old participants and a professional development and conflict management training scheme for future basketball coaches, intergroup facilitators, educators.
PeacePlayers International was founded in 2001 by Sean Tuohey and his brother Brendan on the premise that ‘children who play together can learn to live together’ and combines on-court experiential learning with open dialogue.
It uses basketball to unite children and develop leaders in conflict and post-conflict regions and also runs programmes in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, South Africa and New Orleans, USA.