Shalom from Soccer for Peace’s newest endeavor, our new “Goals for Champions” program, a weekly program for Arab and Jewish special needs youth.

The program is run in cooperation with Rotem- the Barkai Soccer Center for Education and Peace and takes places at Kibbutz Barkai in the Wadi Ara region of Israel.

CIMG1731This unique project brings 18 Jewish youth and 15 Arab youth with special needs together once a week for soccer and social programming. After being split into two mixed groups, one group participates in a social activity in the classroom facilitated by Samir, the social instructor. Simultaneously the other group participates in soccer training on the field with Rafael, the football coach. During the second part of the meeting the groups switch activities.

Social activities include board games, personal empowerment exploration, sing-alongs, drawing and art projects, cooking (homemade pita!), visiting the cowshed on the Kibbutz, and organized discussions. The soccer training prepares the group for qualification and participation in the Special Olympics.

Samir, the social instructor shares why this program is so special and how much happiness is brings to the participants, and to him:

“I run the project for youth with special needs from both sectors and I really enjoy the unlimited kindness that they possess. I don’t know exactly what I give to them, what they take away from working with me, but I know I receive and learn a lot from the smiles and enthusiasm which they bring to the table. When I see happiness in their eyes I feel like I am on top of the world and that I am blessed to be doing work that knows no boundaries, no terms or conditions. Through them I’ve learned which happiness is. When they find happiness in the simplest pleasures I find hope in the ability to keep giving to them, keep on working with youth with a smile on my face.”