Prince William spoke about how he was inspired to see Arab and Jewish Israelis playing soccer together as he attended an event that united his love for soccer and a desire to bring communities together Thursday.
William, 36, was attending a ceremony rewarding 30 young leaders honored by Football for Peace at the Copper Box arena in east London, when he referred to his recent visit to Israel.
“I have seen on many occasions the power of football to unite communities – most recently in Israel, where I met young Arab and Jewish Israelis playing together as part of a project called The Equaliser,” he said.
“All of you Young Peace Leaders here today have worked together, played together and learned to confront pre-conceptions, stereotypes and negative ideologies. As Kashsaid, you are our future – metaphorically and literally breaking down walls!”
The charity uses soccer to bring people from different cultures and faiths together to engender better relationships and greater understanding in communities. The young leaders, ages 15-18, are trained to help create this social cohesion using everything from running soccer tournaments to organizing discussions about the issues that divide their communities.
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William is a passionate soccer fan — his favorite team is Aston Villa in the English midlands and he is President of the Football Association in England — and attended the graduation ceremony of those who were being rewarded.
“Football is not just a game. It is part of the fabric of this nation – providing a common interest and a unifying identity. It brings us together in the enjoyment of a simple pastime, without complication, but with plenty of passion!” he added.
“Because I am a Villa supporter, football has brought me a great deal of pleasure over the years. A chance to escape with friends and family and enjoy its virtues — teamwork, competition, fitness and, occasionally on my part, skill,” he said. “I have seen on many occasions the power of football to unite communities — most recently in Israel, where I met young Arab and Jewish Israelis playing together as part of a project called The Equaliser.”
William attended a workshop on equality, diversity and inclusion, and met the charity’s ambassadors, and teachers. Plus, he even watched some children from local schools doing soccer drills.
The event coincides with Football for Peace’s launch of a move to train 500 young people from across the U.K. to become Peace Leaders by 2020.
Earlier this week, William spoke about the mental health challenges he faced during his time as an air ambulance pilot.