Town Crier: Wycliffe Residents Learn How Tennis Is Helping Kids In Israel

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Posted on: 03/25/2022

By: Mike May

For the Town Crier

The ITEC tennis ambassadors with Yoni Yair and Wycliffe event chairs Harriet and Marty Ross. Photo by Alan Fabricant/alfabphoto

On Thursday, March 10, a group of athletic, young ambassadors from Israel — all talented tennis players — visited the Wycliffe Golf & Country Club for the “Playing for Peace & Beyond” tennis exhibition.

During a 90-minute “show-and-tell” tennis presentation on Wycliffe’s stadium court, the group of Israeli visitors provided personal testimonies about the positive power, influence and impact of their experiences as children with the Israel Tennis & Education Centers (ITEC). They also showcased their amazing shot-making skills on the court, which included dynamic backhands, powerful forehands and crisp volleys.

These young athletic ambassadors are a byproduct of their countless hours on the ITEC tennis courts during their free time as children back in Israel.

Their message of success, hope and inspiration, which they delivered with tennis racquets in hand, was well received by the crowd of more than 350 spectators in attendance.

While at Wycliffe, the Israeli visitors were on a mission to share their own personal story of what’s being done in Israel at all 17 ITEC facilities and how those in attendance from Wycliffe can play a role in helping ITEC continue to provide a safe, secure, caring and instructional refuge for Israeli children.

According to Yoni Yair, ITEC’s vice president of development, many disadvantaged children in Israel need a place to go after school or on weekends in order to avoid getting involved in trouble. Fortunately, the 17 ITEC outlets have been serving as a safe haven for these children since the mid-1970s.

Yair has first-hand knowledge of the power of the ITEC experience, since he benefited from the program as a child. As a professional, he’s now busy generating financial support for ITEC so it can continue to provide a safe and nurturing place for future generations of children in Israel, from all walks of life.

“Since 1976, we have impacted the lives of more than 500,000 children in Israel, which is one of the most conflicted regions in the world,” Yair said. “We serve 20,000 kids annually. We serve children from all walks of life in Israel.”

Right now, children come from a wide variety of backgrounds — Jews, Muslim Arabs, Christian Arabs, Bedouins, Druze, and refugees from many countries around the world, such as Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya, Ukraine, Russia and the United States.

At the ITEC facilities back in Israel, Yair says that tennis is used to get children physically active and to teach them how to live in harmony with people of different backgrounds.

“At ITEC, we provide a quality of life that supports the game of life,” Yair explained. “Helping the children of Israel is what we do. With ITEC, children find an island of stability.”

And many of those children have also become so good at tennis that they have earned scholarships in the U.S., which has given them a chance to get a college education. But that’s just one of many beneficial by-products of what the ITEC experience provides.

The tennis-racquet-wielding ambassadors from Israel all shared personal testimonies about the positive impact of ITEC on their lives. It made an impression on the Wycliffe crowd, which has hosted similar ITEC fundraising presentations four times in the last five years.

Nadine Fahoum, a Muslim Arab, said that her life was transformed for the better by ITEC.

“I learned that we can all live together, regardless of our backgrounds,” said Fahoum, who earned a college scholarship to Duke University with her tennis-playing skills.

Jennifer Ibeto, 19, who is currently in the Israeli army, said that ITEC gave her key life skills.

“At ITEC, I gained confidence. I learned about the importance of an education, and everybody treated me like family,” Ibeto said. “I learned to never stop dreaming. I want to eventually study at a top college or university in the U.S.”

The captain of the tennis troupe was Tamir Geva, 28, who learned the building blocks of life from ITEC.

“I gained values and life skills from ITEC,” said Geva, who attended Wingate University in North Carolina on a tennis scholarship. “I learned how to live the game of life through the game of tennis.”

There was also a short talk by 16-year-old Ben Barth from New York City, who is big believer in the power and influence of the ITEC program.

He urged the audience to support ITEC, just as he did during his bar mitzvah in 2018, which he used to raise more than $60,000 for ITEC.

“I love how ITEC supports co-existence,” Barth said. “The work of ITEC called to me. I think it’s a cool experience for kids. ITEC teaches respect and how we can live alongside one another.”

The funds raised at Wycliffe are being specifically targeted to support the Youth at Risk, Girls Empowerment, Special Needs and Coexistence programs at the ITEC project in Arad, Israel, which is located on the outskirts of the Judean Desert.

According to Yair, the game of tennis is a key part of the ITEC program in Arad, but it’s secondary in importance when compared to teaching children life skills, such as respect, cooperation and determination.

Anybody interested in learning more about or supporting ITEC is encouraged to contact the ITEC Foundation office in Deerfield Beach at (954) 480-6333, ext. 222. For more information about ITEC, visit