|Unbeknownst to me, Ultimate developed slowly and steadily in Israel between 1995 and 2005. Then, in the spring of 2005, I was contacted by Ultimate players in Israel who'd heard of the "legendary" Jewish all-star team. They got my name and contact info but had to check if the Matza Balls were for real, because as it turned out, 5 months later in October, Israel’s first international Frisbee event, BULAFLOW, was going to happen. They wanted us to come, and we did. 11 Matza Balls traveled to Israel to teach and promote the sport. After facilitating several days of clinics for youth and adults, we played among 10 different teams in a beach HAT tournament. Raising the level like that created a groundswell of momentum and growth in Israeli Ultimate. Since 2005, Ultimate in Israel has grown significantly. A juniors league was formed, a junior national team competed in the 2006 World (which I helped to coach) and 2007 European championships, and Ultimate programs in schools have begun to appear.
Unfortunately, Ultimate had not yet made its way into the Palestinian sporting community, so most Palestinian children have not had the opportunity to enjoy this unique and challenging game. This reality became obvious to the Matza Balls during their 2005 visit, and we wondered what it would be like to have Palestinian and Israeli children sharing the joys of throwing and catching a soaring Frisbee, playing on a team cooperatively, and settling on-field disagreements collaboratively. The sport was perfect for making peace and building understanding, and what better setting?After many conversations with Dori Yaniv, my Israeli friend and partner in these ventures, we decided to create Ultimate Peace and planned our first event, Ultimate Peace in the Middle East.
The Matza Balls has always been a men's team, but in the summer of 2008, we created Jewbilation with awesome "Shebrews", and competed in Potlatch, a top national tournament of great mixed division teams. We finished 2nd out of 110 teams, and that success set the stage for the creation of the Ultimate Peace coaching team. Members of the co-ed team that traveled to Israel are known not only for exemplary play (countless national and world titles among them), but also for being highly successful youth coaches. This dynamic group of men and women is made up of high school teachers, educational administrators, community organizers, high-tech engineers, advocates, graduate students, and multi-sport coaches. They were a massive hit with the kids and adults, and left the locals wanting much more.
Overall, the first event was a huge success. The youth were ecstatic and the momentum for continuing to build the program in Israel and the West Bank is very strong. www.facebook.com/UltimatePeace
The kids seem to love the game and the adults love the values. Very promising. There is lots more work to be done, but if you want to get on this peace train, there is plenty of room...
Co-Founder - Ultimate Peace