Tony Blair peace mission backs Bath-Bethlehem sports festival
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Middle East peace mission has given its blessing to a sports festival which will see children from Bath and Bethlehem competing head to head.
The Bethlehem-B&NES Links Youth Sports Festival will see around 100 secondary age children from Palestine taking part in the competition in Bath in October.
The event - the first major activity under the umbrella of the Bathlehem-B&NES Links project - has been backed by the Office of the Quartet Representative, which administers Mr Blair’s work on behalf of the UN, the USA, the EU and Russia in the region.
At the festival between October 21 and 26, teams from each country will play football, netball, basketball and table tennis, as well as getting together for dance training and a swimming gala. A social programme will also show off the tourist attractions of the B&NES district, and céilidh is planned.
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The event has been coordinated by Sally Potter of Spotters Hockey Academy for the project, an initiative set up to encourage knowledge, understanding, respect and friendship between people, communities and businesses in each location.
A statement from the Office of the Quartet Representative said: “The aims of the Bethlehem-B&NES link project dovetail with the Office of the Quartet Representative’s own mandate to promote economic growth and job creation on the ground in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. We believe the project has the potential to make a positive impact.”
Quartet staff have met trustees from the Bethlehem-B&NES Links project to discuss it on two occasions.
A festival roadshow is planned next month for schools which have committed their support, which will start the process of selecting children to make up the teams.
After that, regular coaching and social events are planned throughout the spring and summer.
Andrew Davies, head teacher at the city’s Beechen Cliff School, said: “Palestine is a region often viewed with caution, yet the bottom line is that communities, families and schools are trying to get on with business as usual under tremendously stressful conditions. Sport cuts through political barriers and preconceived ideas and, as we all witnessed with last year’s inspirational Olympics, enables friendships and cultural understanding to be forged between nations. Beechen Cliff is delighted to be participating in this event and to offer our pupils the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of Palestinian culture through sport.”
There are a number of sponsorship opportunities available for companies wanting to get involved with the sports festival. To find out more or request a sponsorship document contact Karen Ramirez via email@example.com.