July, 2006 – Following intensive preparations, and our largest ever fundraising campaign, Soccer for Peace is proud to kick off Camp Coexistence on Sunday July 9th 2006 (for daily blog and photos, click here). 100 youth, aged 10-12 and representing Jewish and Arab populations in equal parts, will arrive at Israel’s Wingate Institute just in time for the World Cup Final.
Germany 2006 was a memorable tournament for better and worse, marked by phenomenal goals, a record amount of cards, surprise upsets, an all European semi final, and a championship that came down to penalties. The final also marked an unfortunate exit for France captain Zinedine Zidane who, having head-butted an Italian player was sent off in extra-time. Apart his crimes of passion, “Zizou” will be remembered among the game’s best ever. His technical mastery and unparalleled vision has mesmerized defenses for 18 years. He has won the highest individual accolades, and lifted both club and country to the heights of the soccer world.
Off the field, Zidane is active in charities focusing mainly on poverty and social integration in Northern Africa and France. For his sustained effort the UN Development Programme named him a Goodwill Ambassador. French-born, of Algerian heritage, Zidane’s leadership and accomplishments are an example to the French nation. He is a reminder of sport’s ability to affect meaningful change by joining people in their shared passion.
That spirit of camaraderie will reign throughout Camp Coexistence, whose regular programming kicks-off the morning after the final. Through five days of intensive soccer training, dialogue workshops, outings and social gatherings, bonds will be forged among children who would otherwise look upon one another with ignorance, if not enmity.
As part of this year’s program, campers will attend a training session with Israel most storied (and successful) soccer team, Macabbi Tel Aviv. Later in the week, they will be visited by Israel’s finest player ever, Eyal Berkovich (“HaKosem” – The Magician), whose prolific career spanned stints in England and Scotland, in addition to over 80 selections for the national team.
Once again, we thank our donors for making this possible, and all our fans for the show of goodwill. Please check back daily for photos and highlights from the camp.