More great coexistence news from the sports world: according to a report in Ha’aretz, a “Peace Team ” made up of Israelis and Palestinians are slated to play in the upcoming Australian Football League International Cup. The effort was organized and funded by the Peres Center for Peace and the East Jerusalem-based Al-Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue. By all reports they have been practicing diligently in Tel Aviv (above) thanks to special travel permits facilitated by the Peres Center that have allowed team members from the West Bank to cross the Green Line.
The Peace Team has been coached by Australian football legend, Ron Barassi, who pointed out that this particular sport provides a unique opportunity to bring diverse peoples together:
It doesn’t matter where they come from, what their background is, it’s a level playing field… It’s the only game in the world (that) when the ball’s on the ground I can put my body over my teammate’s so he can get a kick, and hopefully he does that for me (too).
The uninitiated should know that this tournament is no small deal. Australian Football is played by over 30,000 participants in over 30 countries around the world. (Apparently it more closely resembles rugby or American football than soccer). This year the cup is hosting more countries than ever as Australia celebrates the 150th birthday of its indigenous game. The tournament will be played between August 27 and September 6 in Melbourne and the country town of Warrnambool.
Go Peace Team!