Seven grassroots Israeli initiatives using soccer to promote shared society, coexistence, tolerance, and inclusion, have been awarded grants by NIF’s Kick it Out campaign. With Jewish-Arab relations continuing to deteriorate amid recent tensions, the timing of this initiative could not be more important. Kick it Out received an impressive 50 requests for funding, highlighting the many creative endeavors underway that use soccer to realize the vision of shared society.
The winners were as follows:
- Maccabi Dalyat al-Karmel/Yokneam – a team of Druze, Muslims, and Jews from neighboring towns near Haifa
- Hapoel Rovi Shapira Haifa – a youth team run by fans of Hapoel Haifa including players from the city’s different communities
- Bnei Zamir – a project that brings together Jewish and Arab children in the triangle region, northeast of Tel Aviv
- Hapoel Tel Aviv Youth Division – to support a tournament for six mixed Jewish-Arab teams
- Hapoel Katamon – to support the State Cup for Women (Youth) championship between Hapoel Katamon and Bnei Sakhnin, a Jewish team and an Arab team
- Abu Tor/El-Thuri – a project to improve relations in a mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem
- A.S Ashkelon – a team whose players come from the Ethiopian community, one of Israel’s most disadvantaged social sectors.
The winners were presented with their grants before 30,000 fans and a national TV audience at halftime during the Israel Cup Semifinals last month. Awards to more groups will be made later this month at the Cup Final.
Israeli-Arab soccer star Abbas Suan praised Kick it Out, saying, “Such projects are especially vital at this time. Soccer is an island of sanity in Israeli society and it is important to shine a spotlight on and promote positive endeavors that are happening daily in soccer throughout Israel.”