PeacePlayers International-Middle East has begun working in the West Bank region. This post shares some insight on how things are going so far and a special event that brought the West Bank participants to Jerusalem!
This year PeacePlayers International – Middle East (PPI-ME) began working in the West Bank, and has successfully recruited enough participants to create three teams. Each team practices at least two times per week. The emphasis right now is learning the fundamentals of basketball as many of the participants have never played before. Because the skills being taught are basic, it challenges the coaches and forces them to think of different and creative ways to teach skills such as dribbling, lay-ups, and shooting. Repetition is key when first learning such skills but doing it in a way that is always fun and not using the same drills every practice keeps the players engaged. The coaches are doing a great job of making sure the players are learning proper techniques and not developing bad habits. The participants are eager to learn and progressing very quickly.
After a few months of practicing, an event was held in Jerusalem where the participants from the West Bank had an opportunity to come and meet some of our Jewish and Arab participants from Jerusalem. For all of the West Bank participants, it was their first time traveling outside the West Bank. The bus ride to Jerusalem included lots of laughter, wide eyes full of interest, and hands pressed up to the window as they absorbed everything that passed by.
Once the West Bank participants arrived at the gym in Jerusalem they were greeted by the local participants and split into groups. Their newly developed skills were put to the test as they went to the different stations which included dribbling, lay ups, and a shooting competition. The last activity was team relay races which included dribbling, balancing a ball on a cone, and lots of cheering. After the activities concluded, everyone ate pizza together and spent some time getting to know each other.
It was a great event and wonderful introduction for the West Bank participants. The dedication and hard work of the coaches showed as the West Bank players participated in the different stations. They had no fear of trying new things, shooting at a higher basket than they were used to practicing on, or showing what they have learned so far. The local participants from Jerusalem were amazing leaders and came up with some fun and engaging stations.
The participants from the West Bank boarded the buses home with huge smiles, full pizza bellies, and fun stories to tell their parents.