Updated: Nov 15, 2021
Last week I had the chance to go to the village of Ibilleen and provide some soccer activities for teenage boys at the Nashishibi Institute. Ibilleen is in the northern part of the country, a 20 minute drive west towards the Mediterranean Sea from Nazareth with a population of just over 13,000.
A dear friend from my Young Life circle in the country lives in Ibilleen and serves her community in life changing ways. She works at this institute that is more like a boarding school. The boys who live here come from difficult situations in their home life and have been brought to this school as a kind of last hope effort. All come from Muslim background and some from the Beduoin culture – nomadic people groups that live usually in the harsh desert and lead simple lives. Side Note: Their Arabic is super difficult to understand for me as they have a different dialect but together with some other teachers’ help, we make it work (:
My friend asked if I could help provide some soccer programs for these boys as they are always at the institute and feel left out and forgotten by society. Honestly, they are tough kids and I do my best to understand why and be patient as I consider what their childhood and home life was like growing up. Rough, hard work, not much care from family, and a low education level…it’s just the hand they’ve been dealt. None of us choose where or what family we are born into. But when I think of all the opportunities and care I was given growing up that helped me become who I am today, it motivates and encourages me to serve these teens. To give my time to them so for at least a few hours a week, they can play and enjoy themselves. However, I am also always looking for opportunities teach them about good character. I learned a lot about how to be a better person through sports and I know if it is modeled well, they can also.
For example, we did a dribbling exercise and I didn’t know the word for “control”. I wanted to say “stay under control with the ball as you dribble”. In Arabic the word for control is “SAIYTARA”. So, I began saying “imshee m3 saiytara” meaning “move with control” and then expanded that idea into how not only on the field do we need to have control, but in all areas of our life. Self-control is a hard but valuable life lesson. Then they laughed at my broken Arabic and the fact that I said “SAIYTARA” 50 times because that is how I learn new words. But I know the message I was trying to get across was heard.
When we finish they boys all ask for “One More Game, Please” because they enjoy the sport and playing so much. I’m looking forward to continuing the work in Ibilleen and providing activities for these boys and developing relationships with them.