This past Saturday, UP held it’s season ending event: UP Games. Teams from UP communities from across the region came together at a field in suburban Tel Aviv for a day of game. Players played as community teams against other communities. This marked the end of a packed year where a dozen different communities had regular weekly practices.
This last year has been one of my favorites with Ultimate Peace. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to take a larger role in two UP communities, Bueina Nujidat and Arabe. Making it north almost every Friday was the most rewarding struggle I’ve ever faced. Watching a whole year go by, really seeing the players grow (physically and with their ultimate skills) allowed me to learn so much more from them than I ever expected.
These player come to Ultimate Peace now because they love the game. Sure they still come for the friends, for the spirit, and got the fun, but for the first time this year, they got to play in tournaments based on community. They got to see their hard work at weekly practices pay off on the field against other communities, or in some cases not. The competitive nature of sports started to show itself this year, though it had some growing pains, in the end, I believe it strengthens the resolve and purpose of Ultimate Peace so much more than we could have ever hoped.
The 5 values of Ultimate Peace are: Mutual Respect, Integrity, Non-Violence, Friendship, and Fun. It’s not surprising how well these 5 values fit into each other, and when one is focused on, the others fall into place. The same goes the other way around. Once the competition takes over, it stops being fun. Players focus on the win, and forget that their friends are sitting on the side, not having fun, felling left out, and not respected as other community members or as other players. But what can we do when we see this happening? As a coach, and active member in these communities, it was really hard to watch this happen, and to fell completely ignored when I tried to step in and ask the players if they were having fun, or if they thought their friends who were being left out felt respected. It was the game’s last point, and it was the finals, and the team wanted to win. And they did. But what did they win?
In the closing spirit circle, both teams came together and apologized to each other and their teammates that felt left out. They owned up to the fact that they were wrong and that they didn’t have any fun with it, and in that, they realized that they lost out on why it was they were there, why it was they joined Ultimate Peace in the first place, and why they are all really excited for camp to start next week. It’s always one thing to say something to someone from experience, and try to teach them, it is another thing entirely to watch someone you care about struggle with a challenge, but then learn from it for themselves. At the end of the circle. Smiles were back on their faces, and I truly believe they learned more by experience these emotions than from being told how to fell and what to do. I see the future of Ultimate Peace in many of these players, and future leaders of our world. I think, even more so now, camp will be that much more meaningful and exciting now that these players really understand what they are working for: Mutual Respect, Integrity, Non-Violence, Friendship, and FUN!