The teens—from Jericho, Shoham, Tel Aviv and Be'er Sheva—taught their fellow teenagers from Qatar, Iraq and Tunisia how they promote peace and dialogue and allay suspicion through their shared love for the game of soccer.
The delegation, invited to Russia by FIFA, is staying with the other teens from all over the globe and holding soccer matches, which will culminate in the final on Saturday night at a soccer pitch set up especially in the center of the Red Square in Moscow.
The final, which is drawing a lot of interest from international media, will feature children from Israel and from all over the Arab world playing together.
The delegation is led by Lior Shalom from Tel Aviv, a project manager at the Peres Center for Peace, as well as coordinators Ahmad Roma from Jericho and Yael Tregerman from Rishon LeZion.
According to Shalom, the delegation was first met with suspicion. "We saw the stares we were getting, the fear of speaking to us and mostly the fear of playing soccer together. But as soon as they realized we speak Arabic, respect our Palestinian friends, and play and work together under the two flags—the Israeli flag and the Palestinian flag—the barriers were dropped and we quickly became best friends with the Iraqi team. We even taught them a few words in Hebrew," she said.
"Now we're teaching lessons and mostly winning and scoring goals," she added.