Spurs score in Israel with visit to UJIA project for disadvantaged children

Players support the charity's Equalizer programme before pre-season game against Roma in Haifa


Spurs stars in Israel for a pre-season game against Roma scored for UJIA by supporting an initiative which brings Jewish and Arab youngsters together.

Eric Dier, Matt Doherty, Ryan Sessegnon and club captain Hugo Lloris were among the players who attended a tournament in Jaffa held as part of the Equalizer programme, which helps disadvantaged children through a combination of football training and academic assistance.

The project’s work was recognised in 2018 with the Uefa Foundation for Children Award. 

The Jaffa tournament featured primary age children from Jerusalem, Rehovot, Petah Tikva and the Arab city of Taibeh.

Lloris praised the participants as “incredible. It is clear that the charity does a fantastic job in bringing together children through the power of football. Hopefully today we were able to give the children a memorable experience.”

Equalizer founder and CEO Liran Gerassi said the visit of the Premier League players had given the youngsters “a huge boost to their motivation and self-esteem.

“Previous encounters with Boris Johnson, Gareth Bale and the Welsh national team and with Prince William had a significant impact on the participants and on our organisation, and we are certain the visit of the Spurs players will do the same.” 

UJIA’s Israel director, Emily Pater, thanked the players for giving up their time to support the project “and the incredible work it does using football to inspire and motivate children from across every section of Israel’s diverse society”.

Participants in the tournament received tickets for the Spurs/Roma game, played at the Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa before a 24,000 crowd.

An often feisty encounter between the North Londoners and the team now managed by Jose Mourinho – who Spurs sacked last year – was won by the Italians with a 29th minute header from Roger Ibanez.

The match was briefly interrupted when a fan ran onto the pitch and attempted to take a selfie with the players.

Before the game, Roma stars visited the Kotel, some saying prayers and leaving a note at the holy site.

In a big footballing weekend in Israel, Lionel Messi, Neymar and other Paris Saint-Germain stars were in Tel Aviv, where PSG were taking on Nantes for the French Super Cup on Sunday evening.

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