Israeli-Palestinian Peace Team Departs for Australia, August 8 2011 to compete in AFL International Cup August 12-27
After seven months of training, the AFL PEACE TEAM, comprised of 12 Israelis and 12 Palestinians, will depart from Ben Gurion Airport on August 8th for Australia. Despite the many difficulties this team has faced, not knowing each other, not knowing the sport, and not speaking the same language, the determination of each and every team member has kept them motivated, and they are now prepared to embark on the long trip to Australia in the name of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
This unique Israeli-Palestinian Peace Team, run by the Peres Center for Peace and Al Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue, will compete in the AFL International Cup in Sydney and Melbourne from August 12-27, against teams from 17 different countries around the world. The team will be coached in Australia by AFL legend Robert ‘Dipper’ DiPierdomenico.
In 2008 the Peres Center for Peace, in cooperation with its Australian Chapter, created the first joint Palestinian-Israeli AFL Peace Team. This team of men from all over Israel and the West Bank aged 18-35 was such a great success that thanks to the keen support of the Australian Chapter of the Peres Center, the second Israeli-Palestinian AFL Peace Team is returning to Australia in order to continue spreading the message of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation and dialogue through sport, to show the world that such teamwork is not only desirable but also possible. Brett Kirk, AFL Ambassador who travelled to Israel to coach the team a few months back commented, “To think of what’s happening in this country at the moment, it takes a lot of courage to do what they’re doing.”
The team comprised of 12 Israelis and 12 Palestinians (some from the first Peace Team) has been training since January and participating in moderated dialogue sessions as part of the process of getting to know each other. Led by two ex-pat Aussies, who have volunteered to coach the mixed team, and supported by an Israeli Team Manager and a Palestinian Team Manager who coordinate with the respective players, the team have many barriers to overcome – learning the game, communicating despite the two different languages and making it to trainings – which for the Palestinians means getting permits and passing checkpoints.
The teams’ participation in the International Cup in 2008 generated much media attention in Australia, and in Israel, and the team’s upcoming return already has Australia very excited. The participation of a second Israeli-Palestinian Peace Team in the AFL International Cup will demonstrate to Australia and to the world that Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims, can and do continue to work together to reach their common goals. Moreover, the experiences of the Palestinian and Israeli players will have a lasting effect on these young men, preparing them to serve as ambassadors of peace in their local communities.
Follow the Peace Team’s progress at http://www.peaceteam.com.au/
Or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AFLPeaceTeam
For more information or to arrange interviews: Elysa Rapoport firstname.lastname@example.org