This season was a dramatic one for the Under-16, ‘Naarot Bet’ Tamra/Naharia All-Star team. Having won the championship last year, the All-Stars joined the toughest league in their age group in the 2018 season, encountering some serious competition, plenty of travel, and grueling training. It was a tough beginning, but mid-season saw the turning point as the All-Stars began bringing in some significant wins and guaranteed their place in the league next year. Ending on a high note, the players are going to build on their success as they begin training for the playoffs next year.
At the helm are coaches Shadi Khatib and Dor Dayan, who together brought the All-Stars to new levels of athletic excellence, professional recognition, and peacebuilding impact. Making it all happen are the players themselves, who have stepped up to the challenge. Lana Awad from the Arab town of Tamra, and Shira Grossman from the Jewish town of Naharia are two of the Under-16 All-Stars. We took this opportunity to hear firsthand what playing on this amazing team means to them.
What does it mean for you to play in a mixed Arab/Jewish team? Lana: It is the best thing that has happened to me. It is different than what I do all day: I live in an Arab community go to an Arab school; everybody around me is Arab so it is amazing to go out and be together with Jewish girls in a team. And is it also good for other people, so they understand that Jews and Arabs can play together and that it’s is ok.
Does being on a mixed team make a difference? Lana: I think it makes us a better team, because we understand both the Jewish and Arab communities and we explain it to each other. That makes us stronger against other teams, both Jewish and Arab. Shira: It’s sometimes difficult with the language barrier, but because of that we learn to communicate in different ways and I feel that these tools make us a stronger team.
In addition to athletic coaching, what do Shadi and Dor give you as players? Lana: They give me everything. They give me respect, they make me feel part of a team, they give me confidence. They lift us up. Shira: Dor is amazing, he is nice and sensitive when needed. He is a good coach for girls. Shady gives a different perspective than we are used to, and I feel strongly connected to him.
Have they helped you personally and if so how? Lana: Yes, both did. When things were difficult for me I could discuss it with both of them. They listened and helped me figure it out. Shira: They managed to create a team where it does not matter where we are from or what we are. We are one team together, we are friends, and that is the goal.