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PEACE & SPORT


A number of adventurous organisations are braving warzones and volatile areas around the world to take sporting opportunities to the people living there


raising the ire of the government or traditionalists. A clubhouse will open soon to provide a hub where surfers can gather to socialise, swap tips, go online, host guests and repair their boards. Running the club has demanded tenacity on behalf of Explore Corps. The biggest challenge continues to come from a well- connected NGO, which saw the financial potential in importing equipment and the media attention surfing attracts. They have waged an intimidation campaign, which has involved getting surfers arrested, confiscating equipment and spreading rumours that Olsen and Palestinian surfers are spies. Although a series of complaints lodged with the Ministry of the Interior has decreased the harassment, it is still the biggest challenge and has slowed the organisation’s progress. Although mainly cooperative, the Hamas


government also creates an administrative problem for the US organisation. Explore Corps is not permitted to work with the Hamas government, or even to ask for permission for projects, as this would come across as collaboration. Olsen uses his contacts to get a feel for what will be tolerated. “Getting involved in politics is a no-win situation for the club,” explains Olsen. “But we have helped to humanise the people of Gaza by offering a new view of their daily life.”


On the other side of the blockade,


Explore Corps is involved with a second surfing organisation – Surfing4Peace (S4P) was established by Israeli surfer Arthur Rashkovan and US surfer Dorian


188 LEISURE HANDBOOK 2014


Paskowitz at the same time as the Gaza Surf Club, and was brought under the Explore Corps umbrella. This partnership gives it the backing to administer the bulk of its initiatives, but the flexibility to remain more of a community than an organisation. S4P is prohibited by the Hamas government to have a presence in Gaza, as all peace-building initiatives between Palestinians and Israelis in Gaza were banned in 2010. Surfers in Israel have a much better deal than in Gaza. Whereas Gaza has access to less than 30 boards, in Israel the surf scene is mature with about 20,000 surfers, including lots of females.


The main aim of S4P is simply to


promote friendship. “Opposite to what it looks like in the media, many of us want to find ways to co-exist,” says Rashkovan. “We want to get people in the water, show them the Aloha spirit and let them enjoy a pure feeling of freedom. Surfing can bring people from different backgrounds together. We try not to deal with politics, but keep it at a roots level and talk only with surfers.” Going forward, Explore Corps has been asked to establish the first Palestinian Surfing Association – the Palestinian representative of the International Surfing Association – which governs international competitive surfing. www.gazasurfclub.com m.olsen@explorecorps.com www.surfing4peace.org art.rashkovan@gmail.com


SWAPPING SPEARS FOR BATS South African cricket fanatic Aliya Bauer had the idea of introducing cricket to school children in the Laikipia area of Kenya, Africa, when she was working on a primate conservation project which involved going into schools. “The children were used to being


lectured to and were not very responsive to questions asked. I desperately wanted the children to open up and share their thoughts, so I thought of a different way to engage with them. I brought some mini- cricket equipment and introduced it in a primary school,” Bauer explains. That was in 2007. Now cricket is being played in 24 schools, three youth cricket clubs and three children’s homes. Added to this, there are 105 trained coaches. Maasai morans (warriors) saw the


children playing cricket and were keen to have a go; the bowling action was similar to spear throwing and the thrill of hitting the ball appealed to their competitive nature. Soon there were enough morans to make up a team, although no other teams to play against, as cricket was unknown in the region. Cricket has united rival communities who previously raided each others’ cattle. “Cricket allows them to be competitive without being adversarial, allowing them to see beyond their differences,” says Bauer. The Massai Cricket Warriors have


surrendered their weapons and are campaigning against traditional practices such as polygamy, female genital mutilation and early childhood marriages.


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