With dreams of being the first Ethiopian tennis player to represent Israel. 12 year old Oshri trains four times a week in the High Performance Program at the Marjorie Sherman Israel Tennis & Education Center – Ashkelon.
Oshri immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with his family in 2011, who still cope with difficulties adjusting to life in Israel. The young boy and his siblings are looked after by their older sister Rachel since both their parents work fulltime. It was his sister who insisted that Oshri begin playing tennis at the ITEC. He joined the Empowerment Program for children from Ethiopian descent, and very quickly the coaches recognized his great potential and natural athletic abilities. Due to financial difficulties, Rachel was forced to help her family by working and stopped playing tennis, yet she made sure Oshri continued taking his tennis lessons.
“It was very important that Oshri play tennis every day, not only because of how much he enjoys it, but because he learns so much from being at the Israel Tennis & Education Centers” Rachel said.. “For both of us, it has become a second home and we enjoy every minute we spend there.”
Oshri, along with many others with similar stories, are examples of the impact that the ITEC has on the lives of children. Jonathan David, who sponsors programs for children of Ethiopian descent, explains: “Getting kids involved in this kind of thing and building their self-image is probably more important for their development than anything else”. Dvora Marsha, a graduate of the Program for children of Ethiopian descent, agrees. “Coming to Israel wasn’t easy for the Ethiopian people, but for me the ITEC has been the most important thing in my life. In the beginning when it was really tough, the ITEC was like a family, and they made me feel like I belong somewhere.”