This season started out as one of the hardest, with the violence gaining momentum in Jerusalem and really testing the commitment of the participants to PeacePlayers and its mission. Through the adversity, three of the strongest All-Star teams were created and rocked the league.
The three All-Star teams (mixed teams of Palestinian and Israeli youth competing together in the official Israeli league) of Jerusalem have had an amazing season. In Jerusalem, there is an under-18 team, an under-16 team, and an under-14 team.
The under-18 team finished undefeated in their division and held first place the entire season. Many of the games were blowouts so it was often up to Coach Rebecca Ross to find new ways to challenge her team. Some of the challenges included scoring using certain plays, reaching a certain number of points, or holding their opponents to a certain score.
The under-16 team also clinched first place in their division by beating Ma’ale Adumim 78-27. They also had many games where they dominated their opponents and Coach Ross used the same challenges and techniques.
Both of the teams thrived this year because of Coach Ross’ passion and love for her teams and the fact that the girls were friends both on and off the court and pushed each other on the court during practices.
The under-14 team did very well this year and surprised many people. Oftentimes they were much smaller than their opponents and sometimes younger by as much as a year or two, but they held their own. They won a few games that they were not projected to win and even played an exciting game where they won at the buzzer off of a three-point shot! The improvement throughout the season was very easy to see and their relentlessness made games very entertaining to watch.
Even though the season is over, the work does not stop. The teams will continue to practice for a few more months and work on conditioning and fundamentals. Overall, the teams will work on recruiting more players that want to develop amazing friendships and learn about the other side all while playing at a high level of competition.