Sir Cliff Richard OBE, with the British Ambassador David Quarrey CMG and host Ron Steele at a 2017 fundraising event at the Steele Tennis Club, Herzliya, flanked by coaches and children from Freddie Krivine tennis programs.
The Freddie Krivine Initiative runs empowerment, shared society, coexistence and social equality programs for Arab Israeli children and teens through the sport of tennis. Since 2005 the Freddie Krivine Initiative (FKI) has coached over three thousand marginalized and disconnected youth the sport of tennis.
The United Nations Sport for Development Peace Report indicates that inclusive sports programs in developing countries can make positive life changing differences for participants and their families. The UN states that sport is a human right and essential for childhood development. The FKI initiative has a laser sharp focus on underprivileged Arab children who would not have an opportunity to participate in sports leagues or groups. By mixing them with their Israeli peers their play together does not focus on their differences but more on how they are alike.
The Freddie Krivine Initiative strives to capture the imaginations of kids of all backgrounds and skill levels – bringing together a coexistence community of Arab and Jewish parents, coaches, players, teachers and volunteers. Tennis is a sport for all ages, good for fitness; it teaches the ability to think quickly and strategically, with or without a partner. Tennis strengthens bones and muscles. Through tennis, children learn how to become good athletes, as well as develop and mature into the best versions of themselves.
We believe in creating a safe, positive, and welcoming environment for all young players up to the age of eighteen. By focusing on play, building character and championing individual challenges, we empower players to grow and develop at their own pace. Our coaches are encouraged to give our children more than just tennis lessons, they also serve as examples of excellence and achievement and encourage self-esteem and confidence and create an environment where players are highly-focused, trusting of themselves and others, and able to grow as leaders. The coaches are also in close contact with the families of the players, promoting involvement in a shared society for those in the most isolated communities.
Tennis training is recommended as an empowering sport for at-risk youth as it is somewhat more complicated than most sports as it emphasizes the benefits of individual strategic thinking. It also encourages self-confidence and determination to play, without a team to lean on.
FKI programs attract both boys and girls; the Initiative is providing a sport that religious and traditional families feel comfortable sending their girls to participate in as it is a non-contact sport. By improving schooling outcomes and providing all-inclusive programs that close the gender gap, FKI is recognized by the local authorities as one of the organizations that works to alleviating poverty through sport.
Sheikh Morad, the Mayor of Jisr, has said that our programs are one of the main elements “preventing at-risk youth from being exposed to negative influences.”
Since those early years, more than forty short- and long-term shared society tennis programs have been launched in Jewish and Arab communities. FKI’s first tennis program in 2000 boasts impressive results. In addition to their shelves full of medals and cups, five children chose to train as doctors, a sixth trained as a veterinary doctor, opening the first-ever animal medical practice in his home village and two became professional tennis coaches. One is currently FKI’s Senior Coach, and many Alumni continue as volunteers and mentors in our current programming.
Today FKI instructors work with at-risk children with year-round tennis and social programs taking place in 4 locations, and also run afterschool clubs and empowerment youth programs. For the past 13 years, FKI has contracted with the community of Bet Hanania (Northern Central Israel) to utilize their tennis facilities for weekly training, an afterschool homework tennis club and special monthly activities and Jewish-Arab Holiday Camps.
Our programs create numerous benefits including coaching children in physical fitness and sports, developing a positive group environment, and instilling “life skills” such as self-confidence, self-esteem, leadership, independence, trust in peers and authority, teamwork, goal setting and problem-solving.