“When holding a cricket bat, I feel I hold the whole world,” writes Shehadeh Salamin, a 16-year-old from Al Samoa village in the West Bank, who was introduced to cricket through the Cricket4Peace project, which is jointly run by the Israel Cricket Association and the Peres Center for Peace.

Cricket4Peace was launched in 2010 as a means to bring both Palestinians and Israelis together to learn about each other’s culture, language and of course the game of cricket. The project has been recognised globally, as it has already won one of the biggest prizes in world cricket, by capturing the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ award, beating more than 150 other countries in 2011 in a ceremony in Dubai.

Shehadeh Salamin (right) with a new Israeli friend (photo: courtesy Israel Cricket Association)

Shehadeh Salamin (right) with a new Israeli friend (photo: courtesy Israel Cricket Association)

Shehadeh is one of hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian children brought together by cricket and now connecting with each other through Facebook and other social networking sites. Shehadeh dreams of starting the first cricket club in Palestine and of becoming “the first Palestinian cricketer to play in an international league.” He goes on to say that “cricket is now bigger than football in his village.”

Sharon Gudker, a 14 year old Israeli girl from Beersheba who is also part of the project was a little hesitant to meet Palestinians.

I watched them getting off the bus, they all looked so different to us. I was very nervous and even a bit scared to shake their hands.

It didn’t take long for cricket to spark the magic that sport can achieve as after the joint Israeli/Palestinian team won a match, she writes:

All the kids – Israelis and Palestinians – ran onto the field and gave high-fives to each other. From that moment, everyone smiled at each other and we were less embarrassed about trying to speak in English with each other.

Recently, the International Cricket Council and partners Flicx, ran a competition asking youths from around Europe to send in a letter, under the heading: ‘How has cricket changed your life’.

From among hundreds of entries throughout Europe, Shehadeh and Sharon’s stories, submitted by the Israel Cricket Association, have reached the final stage of the competition. In order to stand a chance of winning a new playing pitch and expanding cricket in Israel, Israel Cricket are looking for as many people as possible to click on the following links and like or share them on your Facebook profile, on WordPress or share it on Twitter. The story with the most likes and shares wins.
Go here for Shehadeh’s essay.
Go here for Sharon’s essay.

Winning the pitch would be a big help in allowing Israel Cricket to expand the sport and spread the experience of coexistence. Voting ends on Friday!