This summer college students from around the world will gather in Eilat, Israel, for the fourth annual Friendship Games. The basketball tournament is designed to build bridges between youth from countries that are in conflict.
Bob Hope, a member of Decatur First UMC and president of Hope-Beckham public relations and event marketing firm in Atlanta, has been involved in the games since they began in 2006. He helps to promote and pull the event together.
“College-age youngsters are the same around the world,” said Hope. “They like music, they like pizza, they like movies. The basketball tournament gives them a feeling that they are much more alike than they are different.”
The confirmed teams for the June 5-12 Friendship Games are: Jordan, Greece, Turkey, Serbia, Germany, Russia, Lithuania, Palestinians, Israel and Estonia. Supporters include NBA Cares, the U.S. State Department, APAC (a Jewish lobbying group), and various embassies.
“It would be ideal for us to have teams from areas of conflict,” said Hope. “We hope to bring in more kids from the Middle East, but it is a slow process.”
The students play the round-robin style basketball tournament during the day and at night they have bands, pool parties, and get to know each other.
“We often hear the kids say things like, ‘I don’t know why I have to suffer because of my parents,’” said Hope. “What we’d like is for them to take the word back home to their friends and to their parents.”
The 4th Annual Friendship Games Basketball Tournament will take place June 5-12 in Israel’s southernmost city, Eilat. For more information or to make a donation to the friendship games, visit www.thefriendshipgames.org.