The visit encompassed a variety of activities for the girls, in both Johannesburg and Cape Town, where they were able to meet and extend a hand of friendship to young South African female soccer players, to show off their soccer skills, and most of all, to counter the widely-held misconception that there is no communication between Israelis and Arab Israelis, and that the country is little more than a conflict zone.
In Johannesburg, the co-existence team participated in a soccer round robin together with two teams from the Crusaders Football Club, Sandringham High School, Afrika Tikkun, Edenvale High School and King David Linksfield High School, they had the opportunity of enjoying a practice session with coaching team staff from Super Sport United, including drills on passing and team work, one of the highlights of their trip, and the team and its chaperones visited the Nizamiye Mosque in Midrand, where staff and the imam welcomed them and gave them a special tour of this remarkable building.
They visited the Afrika Tukkin centre in the Alexandra township where the girls played and sang nursery rhymes with the little children and participated in a traditional African dance with some of the older children who attend Afrika Tikkun.
In Cape Town, the co-existence team played soccer at Century City against teams from Herzlia Middle School, St. Cyprian’s School and Langa. The Delegation presented at the South African Zionist Federation Cape Council Youth Council Yom Rabin ceremony, with The Peres Peace Center representative and a Muslim and Jewish girl speaking about peace.
They also visited classes at Herzlia Middle School where all the girls interacted with local pupils and were privileged to be taken on a personalised tour of Parliament by Steve Swart of the African Christian Democratic Party. Another highlight of the trip included the opportunity of touring Cape Town, going up Table Mountain and experiencing the beauty of the Mother City.
Though the Arab and Israeli teens live in villages minutes apart from one another, this program provided one of the more positive and practical opportunities they have to interact. The motivation for bringing them to South Africa was launched by the Partnership 2Gether Program and the Israel Centre in support of the Twinned Peace Sports Programmes initiative of the Peres Centre for Peace.
Promoting bridge building and coexistence through sport has been one of the many excellent ways in which the Peres Centre has sought to break down stereotypes and change attitudes towards the “other” between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
Ultimately one of the Jewish girls summed up the aims of the Partnership2Gether Coexistence Soccer Delegation and The Peres Peace Center itself:
“It’s not ‘them’ and ‘us’, it’s ‘we’ together!”