England Under-21 squad to support Israel Community Programme this summer
England’s Under-21 stars will help celebrate ten years of anti-discrimination initiatives in Israel this summer, by supporting vital community projects whilst at the showpiece UEFA Under-21 Championship Finals.
Emerging talents such as Jordan Henderson and Jack Butland are likely to be at the prestigious tournament and a number of players will take part in a football festival whilst in Israel, to promote inclusivity in football and the theme of ‘football for all’.
In 2003, The FA partnered with the Israel FA (IFA) to assist in the launch of a Kick Racism Out (KRO) campaign for Israeli football.
Ten years on this project is burgeoning and this summer The FA will help celebrate the landmark anniversary by partnering with the New Israel Fund – a non-profit making equality organisation that manages the campaign in conjunction with the IFA – to promote the latest community initiatives.
Chairman of The FA, David Bernstein, said: “This project will recognise the important ongoing anti-discrimination campaign in Israel – work that is equally important in England too. In both countries the message should always be that football is for all.
“The work undertaken in Israel is of huge social benefit to local communities, regardless of religion or beliefs, and the leaders delivering these projects are inspirational.
"Football should always be a tool for good and it is important that whilst our Under-21 team is in Israel they recognise and support the work going on in the grassroots communities.”
Stuart Pearce, Head Coach of the England Under-21 team, added: “Wherever we go in the world it is important we help contribute to the local community. We are proud and privileged to support such an important project.”
Izik Shanan, of the New Israel Fund, said: “We are proud to be working with The FA and grateful for its leadership and support as well as that of the Israeli FA, which has cooperated with us from day one.
"When we founded KRO in Israel ten years ago we turned to The FA for assistance and have made huge strides in the intervening years. We look forward to working with them as Israel hosts the Under 21 Championships and beyond.”
This week a delegation of community project leaders will be in England as guests of The FA, meeting England’s ‘Kick It Out’ team, visiting Tottenham Hotspur FC and their Foundation, and also sharing experiences with The FA’s women’s football and equality teams.
The project leaders each work with young people in different ways, using football as a tool for education and social inclusion. The group includes:
- Dorothy Noor, 50, manager of Hapoel Ra’anana’s youth division, with 55 girls playing in three different age groups.
- Yaffa Zagia, 24, who is the first female Ethiopian immigrant to start and subsequently run football teams for girls in Israel.
- Liran Gerasi, 28, the founder/manager of the ‘Neighbourhood League’ in which Jews and Arabs play together.
- Abbas Suan, 37, a famous Arab-Israeli player, and now anti-racism campaigner.
- Ohed Isser, 33, the leader of a programme for Beitar Jerusalem in instilling educational values and anti-racism practices.
- Miriam Abu-Ghanem, 29, the first female sports teacher in the Bedouin sector, who is also a goalkeeper.
- Liran Liani, 31, an Israeli referee who has pioneered the ‘green card’ fair play scheme in Israel.
With England starting their UEFA Under-21 Championship Finals campaign on Wednesday 5 June, with a fixture against Italy, members of the team will break from their schedule to visit a football festival where they will observe small-sided games and skills sessions.