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Sports Programs

Students Play Basketball for Peace in Haifa

More than 700 students from four different middle schools in Israel took part in a December 1-6, 2007 program in the Haifa region of Carmel that promoted sportsmanship and interreligious understanding through competitive sports. Under the banner of "One Family under God," these schools participated in a basketball tournament despite their different religious backgrounds: two of the schools had a majority Christian student body, while the school from the Nazareth area was predominately Muslim and the host school was in a Druze community.

The Interreligious Peace Sports Festival (IPSF) believes that positive experiences with people of other religious groups can help shape understanding and cooperation among children and provide a vital ingredient to securing an environment that will support peace and reconciliation. For this reason, the IPSF staff recently joined in the Universal Peace Federation's 33rd Middle East Peace Initiative program and helped to organize this local sporting event designed to support the peace initiative through grassroots activities. 

The final day of the competition, December 6, brought students of the various schools together for a day of celebration. Classes were organized in the morning to discuss good sportsmanship, and the final games were introduced by the music of marching bands. Award ceremonies and special presentations from international guest speakers followed the boys' and girls' finals games. The girls' team that came the furthest distance for this competition - a Muslim school near Nazareth - were the happy winners of the final game.

IPSF plans to continue working with UPF on future events in the Middle East to support initiatives that promote interreligious cooperation and peacebuilding. 

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