Eight top U12 ITEC players traveled from Israel and joined a team of eight top U12 Canadian players in Toronto from August 9th–16th to train, learn, compete, and experience a social and cultural exchange that went far beyond the tennis court.
The first three days consisted of training and the last four days saw the teams compete in the U12 Team Cup competition.
At the start of the week, there was little interaction between the kids — they sat at different tables, did not talk, and on-court exchanges were minimal. Throughout the week, however, we saw friendships forming.
Slowly but surely, teams began having conversations, high-fiving, and hugging each other. The Israelis were teaching the Canadian players Hebrew and the Canadians were teaching the Israelis a few French words. The Canadians had lots of questions about Israel and what daily life is like there. Together they explored the group’s mixture of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim heritages, teaching one another and letting curiosity lead the way.
Ultimately Team Israel took home the U12 Team Cup but every participant was a winner in bringing together these two nations in the spirit of sportsmanship.
By encouraging these types of exchanges, ITEC aims to strengthen the relationship between Israel and other nations and promote lifelong friendships on and off the court. The children that took part in the Team Cup will be future ambassadors for both Israel and Canada, ultimately bringing our two nations closer through the bonds of tennis.
Thank you to Michael Downey, President & CEO of Tennis Canada, for his vision and partnership and the Tennis Canada team, led by Oded “Dedi” Jacob, who organized and ran a world-class event.
When it was time to say goodbye, emotions were high. The kids exchanged phone numbers and social media handles and talked about seeing each other again, already looking forward to being reunited in Israel come November during the next leg of this Team Cup.