OK, let’s be honest: There are loads of organizations that promote peace through sport. Why? Because there’s something about physical interaction that brings out our basic humanity regardless of cultural and political differences. And honestly– though it may seem that I’m biased– there are loads of unique aspects of Ultimate Peace that set it apart as a very special contributor to the ‘Peace through Sport’ world. One of them is the Coaches in Training (CIT) program.
Rona Yaniv is a Jewish Israeli who serves as Director of the program. She describes it in the following way:
“The CIT Program is a multi-year program that aims to develop young leadership in the world of Ultimate Peace and beyond. In accordance with the UP values, we believe that the way we play is similar to the way we lead our lives, hence our goal is to instill and develop communication and social skills, mutual understanding and respect and openness and acceptance towards others while developing personal responsibility, core values and leadership.
Every year ~20 kids are selected for the program, which consists of monthly meetings. Every session is a combined social activity alongside various tasks with the emphasis on developing their social, leadership and management skills. As a group, the CIT’s are integrated into key positions during the ongoing yearly UP activities while their main project is planning and executing an all camp activity for the summer camp.
Our vision- development and encouragement of UP values amongst the CIT’s until their full integration as UP coaches alongside other key organization positions.”
The uniqueness comes in investing in the local youth year-round not just as players, but as future leaders. CITs are expected to uphold and exemplify the UP values on the field and often serve as captains and leaders of their teams. Additionally, they are expected to translate what they understand about our core values to their communities. They are the spokespeople of ultimate and Ultimate Peace.
Personally, as a relatively privileged white American there is a certain degree of trepidation about coming into a foreign place and thinking you’re going to help set things “right”: the “Great White Hope” syndrome looms a bit. The fact that UP is committed to fostering local leadership such that the program can be locally sustainable is an important, and as I said unique component of the UP vision that helps to alleviate some of that trepidation.
And I have to say, the CITs are nothing short of remarkable. I’m going to let them speak for themselves. (Bear in mind that these are teenagers for whom English is their 3rd(!) language!)
Lora G. Basil AbuAita, Beit Sahor, West Bank
“When I started to go to the [CIT] meetings, I was so happy to have such friends and to be with them for the whole day. In the meetings, we are preparing for a special CIT event for the camp and at the same time we are working on small things which makes our society better in the Ultimate program, and this is giving us a big responsibility because we are doing things which are helping almost 250 player, and if you think about it you will realize that it’s a real huge responsibility!
When I reach the day of the CIT program every month, I feel like I’m throwing my whole life behind me and I get ready for the two-hour journey that takes me to Happiness!!! As Yasmeen said once, being with the players of Ultimate is like when a person runs after happiness and suddenly finds it there.. Assaf, another CIT has said that it’s the first time for him to meet people from other societies and religions and I will explain the importance of that: In the CIT program, there are Jews, Muslims and Christians, but we’ve never thought about trying to talk about religion or politics because as I said before, we throw everything behind us and go to the meetings. I never thought that I’d be dealing with an Israeli person but I really don’t think about that while I am there! Now I have a lot of Israeli friends who are so friendly and close to me. Furthermore, we feel that we are doing something in our lives, something important which gives us experience and makes us help a lot of people.”
Hanan Shahady, Tamra, Israel
“Everytime I come back home from a CIT meeting I can’t help not thinking all night about it, because it’s something important, special and different in my life. I remember the first meeting when we sat together in a circle and talked about how important it is to be one of the group, to ask if you don’t understand, to speak if you have something in mind, and to be the first in everything because you are a Leader!
In the first meeting, his deep words- Tomer levey- about the leadership was the first step to begin the way.
In the second meeting, we were divided into small groups and asked to come up with ideas for the yearly project. I was a little bit afraid and confused to share my idea with my group, but I was hearing encouragements all around. In my group I felt comfortable to speak my mind and even speak up when it was time for each group to show the other groups their ideas. And I felt much happier when my idea was accepted.
Every meeting is mixture of having fun and being serious. When it’s time to have fun they give you the maximum of joy but on the other hand when it’s time for concentrating and working for the project then you have to squeeze your brain to give the best decision and make the right choices. CIT Program is all about building your personality and putting you in positions when you have to face the situation and stand up the difficulties, and to adjust to the fact that it’s all about you now, you are becoming a leader!”
Yasmeen Mresat, Tamra, Israel
“I still remember in our first meeting when Tomer said about our start as leaders,”Stay hungry and humble, always be ready to give your maximum , be committed , be a good example for the others, make them learn from you and behave like you.” One of the great values that we learned in this amazing program: Nothing’s enough – there’s always more to learn .
The fun , the jokes we tell , the games we play , spirit and teamwork , and even sitting to have meals together makes me want from our day to last forever !, and the best thing we have as a team in my opinion is that we don’t spend all the time with friends from our places , we share the love with everyone , and the love is growing with us always!
The hours we spend together are so priceless…
Beautiful people, seeing your sweet faces once a month make my day brighter, my heart happier, and my smile bigger, but most of all, you make “me.” With you I can be the person I always wanted to be!! I feel so lucky for having this opportunity that so many others wanted to take.
I always find myself after thinking of being a CIT thanking god for blessing me with these unique people , I ask myself ,”What could be much better than spending time with the people you like, doing what you like for a community you like?? Yes, what could be much better than spending time with amazing friends working to change, to lead ,and to help build a better future… to achieve something for the UP community?? Nothing… truly nothing!”
Yeah. Did you get it? That they’re remarkable? Rona gets to work with them regularly and says, “I’m proud to lead such an incredible group of people and am honored to work with this unique and promising program. Our kids are simply amazingly bright and inspiring and they make it easier believing the future can and will be a better one!“
I couldn’t agree more!
-Sarah VanWagenen, UP Year-Round Coach