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Sports Programs

Play Soccer, Make Peace

Play Football, Make Peace has run pilot programs for young  people in Gaza, Israel and Jordan. The power of sports to bring down borders was shown when young people from the separate areas of Gaza had a unique chance to meet each other and compete through a Play Soccer [Football] Make Peace tournament, a joint project conducted by UPF and WANGO, the World Association of NGOs.

The Palestinian Football Association and the Ministry of Sports and Culture helped select the sixteen teams and 300 players. This was the largest soccer tournament in Gaza, and both Fatah and Hamas fielded teams at a time when they were in conflict with each other.

Play Soccer, Make Peace also organized a tournament in northern Israel that brought together Israeli Jewish and Arab youth. "During the tournament, Jewish and Arab youth and coaches had the chance to come into contact with one another and partake in a joint activity,” said organizer Mohammad Darawshe. “This is something that does not happen often enough in our country.”

At a regional Play Soccer, Make Peace tournament in Jordan, youth from Egypt, Estonia, Gaza, and Yemen traveled to Amman to compete with Jordanian youth, Palestinian refugees , and Iraqis living in Jordan. The Jordanian organizers set the tradition of teams eliminated in one round of competition going to the next game to cheer for the team who had defeated them.

The Palestinians broke the ice with the Estonians, encouraging then to mix with the other players, and the Iraqis requested a special post-tournament friendly match with the Estonians. The Yemenis won the tournament.

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