Sept, 2012– On September 12, 2002 some 80 people gathered at a bar in downtown NY to hear about an idea named Soccer for Peace.
At the time it was nothing more; an idealistic and untested way of fostering peace between Arabs and Jews.
That evening, modest though it was, was perhaps the greatest success of Soccer for Peace. It resonated, such that a one-time event evolved into an organization. Over the next several months Soccer for Peace would find its legs: attending the first ever Congress of Sport & Development in Switzerland, holding a successful tournament at Harvard and most importantly developing a programming model. In the summer of 2005 the organization held its first overnight soccer camp in Israel for Jewish and Arab children. That camp has been held every summer since, with an after-school program added in select years.
While a decade is worthy of celebration, these past ten years have in many ways been difficult for Soccer for Peace. The global economy has presented a profound fundraising challenge for any charitable organization, particularly one based in NY. Peace negotiations in the Middle East have proven futile, making it hard to generate institutional excitement for such an initiative. And Soccer for Peace itself remains a small organization, whose only considerable resource is the goodwill of its volunteers.
Despite these challenges, over a thousand children have now passed through Soccer for Peace. Many returning time and again. Thousands have similarly attended our fundraising events, from the very first cocktail party to the Soccer for Peace Cup, a 32-team adult tournament last held in 2010. All of which leads to the invariable and valid question – does it work? While it’s impossible to quantify the long-term effect of Soccer for Peace, two things have become apparent (1) the quality of the output is a direct function of the quality of the inputs, and (2) whether or not comprehensive peace is achieved is irrelevant, our work will go on because it must. Indeed, we thank you profoundly for these past ten years and look forward to writing the next installment of this letter, in September 2022.