New Grants Use Football to Promote Shared Society

Fourteen grassroots Israeli initiatives using football to promote shared society, coexistence, tolerance, and inclusion, have been awarded grants by NIF’s Kick it Out campaign. With Jewish-Arab relations continuing to deteriorate amid recent tensions, the timing of this initiative could not be more important. Kick it Out received an impressive 50 requests for funding, highlighting the many creative endeavours underway that use football to realize the vision of shared society. The initiative is scheduled to continue until the end of the 2016/17 season.

The first round of grants were awarded before 30,000 fans and a national TV audience at half-time during the Israel Cup Semifinals last month. The winners were:

Maccabi Dalyat al-Karmel/Yokneam: a team of Druze, Muslims, and Jews from neighbouring towns near Haifa

Hapoel Rovi Shapira Haifa: a youth team run by fans of Hapoel Haifa including players from the city’s different communities

Bnei Zamir: a project that brings together Jewish and Arab children in the triangle region, northeast of Tel Aviv

Hapoel Tel Aviv Youth Division: to support a tournament for six mixed Jewish-Arab teams

Hapoel Katamon: to support the State Cup for Women (Youth) championship between Hapoel Katamon and Bnei Sakhnin, a Jewish team and an Arab team

Abu Tor/El-Thuri: a project to improve relations in a mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem

S Ashkelon: a team whose players come from the Ethiopian community, one of Israel’s most disadvantaged social sectors.

The second round of awards were presented in a special ceremony during half-time at the State Cup Final between Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv:

Hapoel Oranit: third Division team which organizes joint Jewish-Arab youth training sessions.

Maccabi Tel Aviv/Tayybe youth teams: the two teams are cooperating on projects encouraging coexistence and respecting the other.

Maccabi Achi Arara: third Division team which organizes anti-racism activities.

Nahal Alexander NGO: an NGO which organizes mixed teams of Jews from the Sharon and Arabs from the Triangle region.

State of Football: an organization which encourage coexistence activities for amateur footballers in Lod.

Megiddo Sports Club of Peace and Brotherhood: a club which organizes activities for Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, and children from the center of the country and for the periphery.

IFA CEO Rotem Kamer said: “This joint initiative is another important layer towards our goal of creating a football clean from violence and racism, and based on respect, equality, and unity. Football was and will continue to be a bridge for connection, tolerance, coexistence, and shared life here. This is our way to encourage and to support those taking part in this initiative and are working to unite Israeli society and Israeli football and not to deepen rifts. I expect continued involvement and even more great initiatives.”

Israeli-Arab football star Abbas Suan praised Kick It Out, saying, “Such projects are especially vital at this time. Football is an island of sanity in Israeli society and it is important to shine a spotlight on and promote positive endeavours that are happening daily in football throughout Israel.”

May 2016