Neighborhood tournament brings together 160 Jewish and Arab children in Jerusalem.

160 Jewish and Arab children from neighbourhoods throughout Jerusalem took part in a unique football tournament called "Football for All" to mark the end of International Human Rights Week on December 18. The tournament was organized by Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem, one of three professional teams in Israel set up by fans, and supported and funded by New Israel Fund's Kick Racism Out of Israeli Football campaign.

Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem's social initiative runs a neighborhood league in Jerusalem for children from all the city's populations. The league stresses educational social values such as coexistence and tolerance.

The tournament began in Jerusalem's Sacher Park where current and former Hapoel Jerusalem stars spoke to the Jewish and Arab children and gave them playing tips as the tournament progressed. The stars kept stressing the message that in football everybody has an equal opportnity. The final of the tournament was played in Teddy Stadium prior to Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem's league match against Kiryat Gat.

Itzik Shanan, founder of NIF's KIO Israel, a partnership with the Israel FA, said, "This event typified the solidarity that exists between Jews, Arabs, new immigrants and native born people here in Jerusalem - everybody is equal on the pitch."

Among the 2,000 spectators watching the final of the tournament at Teddy Stadium was Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Aftet the tournament final all the teams that participated did a victory lap of honour holding banners in Arabic, Hebrew and English which said football for All.

A version of this article is also available in Russian and Polish.

Published 13/01/2011