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Starting the year off right in Jerusalem!

Today’s blog from PPI-ME is written by coach and field coordinator, Jess Reiser.

Kids in the Arab community of Ein Rafah get excited at practice

The school year in Jerusalem started about six weeks ago, and we are deep in the swing of things at Peace Players International – Middle East. Because of the Jewish holiday season, our joint activities are set to start at the end of October. We have been using this time to get the year off to a good start with high-impact mono-communal programming for Palestinians and Israelis in their own communities, helping them learn basketball fundamentals and preparing them for joint activities with their twinned team from the “other side.” It’s been a busy and fun beginning with so many different teams and I love being able to work with different kids and coaches every day. It’s been a really great learning experience so far.

Kids from Keshet school in Jewish west Jerusalem work on some ball-handling drills

Because many of the kids are new to basketball and Peace Players, each practice we have been emphasizing basketball fundamentals while making sure the kids are having fun. We are focusing on listening skills with fun games and exercises. My favorite game has been “red light, green light,” which I really loved growing up. In “red light, green light,” a person in the middle calls out “red,” “yellow,” or “green.” Each color has a command: stop, go slow, or run, respectively, and whoever gets to the other side of the court first, wins. With this game, they learn that they have to listen closely in order to win. The kids love it, and I also enjoy yelling out the colors.

Focusing on basics and fundamentals, we’ve started out with mostly dribbling and passing drills to get the kids more comfortable with a basketball in their hands. It’s amazing how much improvement you can see in just six weeks and how excited the kids are to learn. At this point, they are requesting to do dribbling and passing drills!

We end many practices with a fun shooting game. The kids always love to shoot around, especially when it involves some sort of competition. My favorite is when we split the kids up into teams and each time someone scores a basket, they run and grab a cone from the center of the court until all the cones are gone. Whoever has the most cones, wins. They end up cheering for each other and it’s always a good time.

This first month and a half definitely has great momentum going for this year! I love waking up every day and being excited about all the practices that are coming up in the day. The kids are great and learning every day. I’m so excited to get our twinnings going and to see what these kids can really do when Palestinians and Israelis come together as a team!

PeacePlayersIntlStarting the year off right in Jerusalem!

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