Bobby Charlton scores in Israel

The man is the wrong side of 70, but you would never know it. Finally, Sir Bobby, the icon of British football for half a century, will be arriving in Israel this week.

Officially Bobby Charlton will be a special guest of Team GB at the Maccabiah Games, the third largest gathering of athletes in the world. He will be accompanied by other senior members of the Manchester club.

Away from the stadiums, Charlton has a full itinerary. To quote the press release:

On Friday 10thJuly, Sir Bobby and his party will attend a coaching session with the British Council’s ‘Football 4 Peace’ at the Wingate Sports Institution in Netanya. This will involve Sir Bobby joining Arab and Jewish children from the Football 4 Peace project at the Wingate Sports Institute for a special coaching session.

This initiative is now in its 9th year and has the full cooperation of Israeli statutory authorities. Specifically, over the first half of July, hundreds of youngsters of all ethnic backgrounds will be trained by dozens of experts from the UK.

Thinking about it, Charlton is ideal figure for this role. I am a confirmed Chelsea supporter, and always looked forward to the Blues pulling one over their Manchester rivals. However, Charlton was a cut above the struggle, a man of dignity on a muddy football pitch.

Charlton is quoted as saying: –

Using football to bring different people together is an approach that we endorse as part of our community outreach at Manchester United. I am delighted to be extending this philosophy to Israel.  It is a privilege to be working with Arab and Jewish youngsters and to be a part of Football 4 Peace project.”

Israel’s neighbours will do well to copy this project.

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