December 10, 2010

Israel

Cricket unites children in the Middle East

Cricinfo

The Israel Cricket Association (ICA) plans to conduct a unique cricket clinic with children from the Palestine Authority as part of a peace initiative for the region over this weekend.

ICA president Stanley Perlman’s dream of seeing Palestine kids playing with Israeli counterparts will come true this Sunday. The clinic will take place in Beersheba, which is located south-east of the Israeli capital city of Tel Aviv.

This is the first attempt to bring children from both sides together and it will all happen in conjunction with the Peres Peace Centre, run under the name of Israel president Shimon Peres. Peres Peace Centre conducts similar clinics with football and basketball. This is a first with cricket.

“The plan is to link the Palestinians and Israelis through cricket. An anonymous donor from London who is a Jewish businessman is putting in a fair sum of money as part of the first year’s activities. The Peres Peace Centre will play a part for this. They can also get the necessary security clearances to get the Palestine kids over," Perlman said.

In all, 15 children from two Palestine towns will come on Sunday to the other side of the border.

"The children will come from two towns, south of Hebron, Samoa and Yaata. Our national cricket development officer Herschell Gutman, who is a Level 4 coach, will impart knowledge on cricket. ICA’s youth development officer George Sheader will also assist in the project," Perlman added.

Two children’s groups from the low income groups from Dmiona and Yerucham in Israel will also be at the clinic.

The two-hour clinic on Sunday will not just be about cricket. "They will be taught about playing cricket together not against each other," Perlman said. "They will take part in other projects like learn to speak the other person’s language, learn about the other person’s food habits. We will have people who will teach the kids to speak Arabic and Hebrew. It will start at 4.30pm and will be telecast live on an Israeli TV station."

The project, once it takes off, is to take place once a month.

"We at ICA will provide all the cricketing raw material," Perlman said. "We will show them cricket videos. It is a dream come true for me. If the kids play together, they will learn about each other’s culture, language, food. We live so close to each other, the sooner we understand the better for us in the long run. ICA could well be a new avenue for peace."

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