San Marino, San Marino—Sixteen girls from Israel who were born in 2004 were guests of the Republic of San Marino as part of the UPF "Football for Peace" project.
The tournament, which took place from August 28 to 31, 2018, was supported by the Football Federation of San Marino in collaboration with UPF of San Marino. This was the fourth year for the initiative, which uses football as an instrument of peace and integration for the Middle East region, and the third to be hosted in San Marino.
This year, for the first time, the tournament was played by teenage girls. It was hoped that football would unite the players—both the Middle Eastern girls with each other (eight are Jewish, and eight are Muslim) and also the Israeli team with the San Marino girls.
The Israeli girls, accompanied by several adults, including two Israeli parliamentarians of Arab background, arrived in San Marino on August 28. The next day they visited the Casa del Calcio (Soccer House) in Montecchio, the historical center of San Marino. After that, in the company of their "colleagues" of San Marino, they headed to a football field in the neighborhood of Faetano for the first of the scheduled training sessions.
On August 30, the visitors had an audience with San Marino’s joint heads of state, Captains Regent Matteo Ciacci and Stefano Palmieri, before returning to Faetano for the second training session.
On August 31, the visitors went sightseeing in the historic center before attending the opening ceremony of the Games of the Small States of Europe (in which nine nations were competing). Finally, in Faetano, they took part in the Summer Women's Football Festival organized by the Football Federation of San Marino.
UPF representatives met with Monica Namy, the social responsibility manager for the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), who was in San Marino for the opening ceremony of the Games of the Small States of Europe. During the meeting she expressed the desire to talk to the girls. She and the girls had a friendly meeting and posed for a photo together.
During four days together, in addition to playing football, the San Marino girls and their guests from Israel saw the birth of friendships that transcend cultural and religious differences.