Minister Martin visits Ireland’s ‘Soccer Village of Hope’ during Mid-East Visit
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, T.D., yesterday visited a soccer camp for Israeli and Palestinian Children which has been funded by the Irish Government and supported by the Football Association of Ireland.
Following a series of political meetings in recent days in Cairo, the West Bank, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Minister Martin travelled to Meir Shveya in northern Israel to meet the children participating Ireland's first week-long Football Village of Hope.
Minister Martin stated: “Meeting the Israeli and Palestinian children at the Football Village of Hope this afternoon has undoubtedly been the most inspiring part of my visit to the Middle East. Since yesterday, I have been engaged in political discussions in Cairo, Jerusalem, the West Bank and Tel Aviv. I have seen the conditions under which people are living in the Occupied Territories and heard from Palestinians and Israelis of their fears and their ambitions for the future. This afternoon, we have seen the hope for the future, with 60 children, Israeli and Palestinian, setting aside divisions which separate their communities and working together on the football pitch and in shared cultural activities”.
The Minister paid particular tribute to the work of Ophir Zardok, General Manager of Drogheda United Football Club, and Milo Corcoran, Head of the FAI International Department, and their local partners the Shimon Peres Centre for Peace and Al Quds Association for organising this first annual summer camp.
“I am very pleased that the Government has been in a position to fund this week-long summer camp. It could not have taken place without the imagination and dedication of the FAI and the determined commitment to peace and reconciliation of the Shimon Peres Centre for Peace and the Al Quds Association. They deserve our thanks, and our encouragement for the future.”
The Village brings together 60 under-14 year olds (30 Palestinians and 30 Israelis), together with members of their families, Israeli and Palestinian football coaches, and three coaches from the Football Association of Ireland. The Government through Irish Aid provided €45,000 to fund the organisation of the summer camp.
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