ITEC Wimbledon Champ Andy Ram, CEO Erez Vider “wow” the Knesset Sports and Education Committee:
Committee Chairman MK Simon Davidson: “I want to publicly bless and embrace the Israel Tennis and Education Centers, an exceptional organization and a shining example of a project for Education and Sport in the State of Israel. I would like to meet as soon as possible at ITEC to determine how the State of Israel can assist this amazing organization”.
We are happy to report a dramatic breakthrough for ITEC in Israel’s Knesset over the last few weeks which climaxed with our invited presentation in the Knesset Sport and Education Committee on February 8th.
Over the past few weeks, Erez and ITEC’s senior team held a series of game changing meetings. MK Desta Gadi Yevarkan, a rising star and Ethiopian Israeli Knesset member who literally fell in love with ITEC, joined us at Ramat Hasharon for two hours of consultations. Minister of Sports and Culture Yehiel (Hili) Tropper and MK Sharren Haskel, Chairwoman of the Knesset Sport and Education committee, visited ITEC and set the stage for this week’s dramatic ITEC appearance at the Knesset.
Last week ITEC Vice Chairman, Dan Diker, met privately at the Knesset with MK Desta Gadi Yevarkan and MK Simon Davidson, Co-Chairman of the Knesset Sports and Education Committee, in the hope that ITEC would receive an invitation to address the full committee with the goal of receiving state budgetary funding.
This week, ITEC’s hope became reality.
ITEC’s four person delegation was invited to the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) as guest presenters and to participate in a meeting of the Education, Culture and Sports Committee, headed by MK. Simon Davidson from the “Yesh Atid” party and a former competitive swimmer.
ITEC’s delegation included: ITEC CEO Erez Vider, ITEC Vice Chairman Dan Diker, ITEC Academy Director and 3-time Doubles Grand Slam Champaion, Andy Ram and Senior Manager Shuki Rajman.
Knesset member Desta Gadi Yevarkan, who as noted above had visited ITEC Ramat Hasharon, paved the way for ITEC’s participation in the Knesset Committee and ensured that Andy, Erez, and Dan were included on the roster of presenters.
The objective of the Knesset Committee meeting was to assign budgets from Israeli government offices to major sports and education initiatives. Chairman Davidson said of the ITEC: “This is an amazing sports education project, and I will personally knock on every relevant government office door to help secure funding”.
Chairman Davidson noted that ITEC’s principles of Excellence, Equality, Education and Leadership and our mission to empower children and transform Israel, by creating champions for life off the court and on the court almost “brought him to tears.”
Andy Ram shared his personal ITEC journey from a child to a world doubles champion to a packed and captivated committee room. Andy credited ITEC with shaping his life, first as a child who began as a young struggling immigrant boy from Uruguay who was initially embraced, developed and trained at ITEC’s Jerusalem Center. Andy told the committee, “Sport was the means to integrate into Israeli society, especially as a new immigrant without economic means, without language and lacking cultural familiarity.”
Andy said: “By the age of 8 I was already one of the talented kids on the team and had a strong determination to succeed. By the age of 13 I was already leading the national rankings and by the age of 14 I moved to a boarding school for talented sportsmen at Wingate Institute. Everything I achieved in life is thanks to ITEC.”
Andy reminded the committee that ITEC is the largest tennis and education center in the world under one roof. He noted that most of the centers were purposely built in the periphery in the most difficult neighborhoods and cities across Israel, and today serve 7,500 children daily and include unique social impact and championship programs, and targeted initiatives for at-risk and special needs children.
The participants in the discussion (conducted in Hebrew), particularly Chairman Davidson, expressed “amazement” in hearing that the ITEC has dedicated NIS 13,000,000 annually – unprecedented among Israel Education/Sports organizations – to scholarships and subsidies to enable every Israel child to excel at ITEC. The committee chair expressed admiration at the generosity and unwavering 45 year commitment of ITEC’s North American leadership and philanthropy
Andy called on the Knesset and the government to actively and immediately support our activities, so that they can be increased and reach as many children as possible, which the committee agree are unique and “amazing,” like nowhere else in the world.
ITEC received an official commitment by MK. Simon Davidson, who promised he will do everything to recruit the Ministry of Welfare and the Ministry of the Development of Periphery, Negev and the Galilee, in order to find our organization more sources of funding and include our budgeting in the government’s five-year plan.
MK Simon Davidson and MK Desta Gadi Yevarkan have already confirmed a follow up meeting at ITEC’s Ramat Hasharon center on March 13th.
We look forward to sharing continued good news.
Erez Vider, CEO
Israel Tennis & Education Centers