On December 16, 2016, the girls from one of PPI – ME’s awesome All-Stars teams, the Tamra/Nahariya under-14 team, came together to celebrate the 13th birthday of one of their teammates, Roni Tamir. Roni and her mother, Osnat, organized the entire event: a pajama party for the whole team. The girls arrived at Roni’s house on a Friday afternoon and spent the entire afternoon and evening together playing “get-to-know-you games,” singing and dancing to karaoke in three languages (English, Arabic and Hebrew), and eating lots of birthday treats.
Here is what Osnat had to say about the party: “The girls seemed so comfortable and natural with one another. It felt like any other birthday party for a 13-year-old, with everyone happy and celebrating. I think this is because of all the time they’ve been spending together during games and practices and also from the retreat they attended in Tel Hai. The retreat really took this team to the next level because they were able to see that there are more similarities than differences between them. The girls seemed to have a wonderful time at the party. I hope we will do more activities like this off the basketball court.”
After talking with Lilian, a Jewish player from Nahariya, I learned how special the party really was. Lilian said it was the most fun the girls have had together thus far. She said they were able to connect on a deeper level and learn more about one another outside of basketball. They took a ton of photos and videos, and Lilian even put together a “Mannequin Challenge” video to share with the rest of the team.
One of the most impressive things about the pajama/sleepover party is that it was organized entirely by the girls, without PPI – ME’s involvement. These girls and their families are making an effort to become more than just teammates who play together. They are becoming friends who genuinely care about one another, on and off the basketball court. The bonds they are forming outside of PPI – ME are also helping them on the court; the Tamra/Nahariya under-14 All-Stars team is in first place in their division right now and are looking to continue their success. There is no coincidence that teams who are able to get along, trust in one another, and build friendships off the court, also are able to reap those benefits on the court.