The Jaffa Doubles Coexistence Winter Regional Tournament, a program sponsored by the Israel Tennis Center (ITC), enabled 90 Jewish and Arab players from across the country to team up for some court action.
By using mixed tennis as a springboard, players from three ITC facilities participated in the event, the fourth in a series of distinctively structured competitions intended for the advancement of positive relations between Jewish and Arab children in Israel.
Yaniv Skira, manager of ITC Beersheba, whose team was joined by players from Jerusalem and Jaffa, told the media that most of the kids usually do not spend much time playing doubles so two months of training was required to prepare for the tournament. The kids were taught doubles tactics, communication and given lots of positive reinforcement.
Matches were played in mixed Jewish-Arab doubles in four different categories that ranged from mini-tennis with soft balls to full-court games based on the level of tennis expertise. Approximately 100 matches were played and teams accumulated points for each win.
Shachar Yanai, the director of the ITC Doubles Coexistence Program, claims communication is key when it comes to doubles tennis. He goes on further to say that the significance is far greater in the Doubles Coexistence Winter Regional Tournament due to the cultural barriers the children are breaking.
By conducting team competitions the ITC is doing their part to develop and improve future co-operation and faith between Jewish and Arab participants. The common interest they share, in this case doubles tennis, is intended to generate an encouraging notion that the two peoples can get along and coexist with the help of sport. The ITC hopes that this positive mind-set will be mirrored throughout Israeli society.
The mini-tennis competition was dominated by the Jerusalem team and Ilan Maman, manager of ITC Jerusalem beamed at their triumph. He spoke to the media saying they will be singing songs of victory in Hebrew and Arabic.
Maman was not alone in his jubilation. The player’s parents, both Arab and Jewish, also teamed up to cheer their kids on. The competition culminated with a trophy-award ceremony with each team shouting their little hearts out to score extra points for morale.
Jerusalem won the mini-tennis category. The three-quarter court and full court beginners level award was given to Jaffa while the full-court advanced level trophy was awarded to Beersheba. In the overall point count, Jaffa, the host of the competition, came out on top.
All in allthe event proved a major success as the young players learned to communicate and work as a team. The ITC hopes the kids will take the valuable skills learned from the Doubles Coexistence Winter Regional Tournament and apply them in their everyday lives and continue to break down the cultural barriers they demolished during the competition.
Reprinted with permission from Shalom Life