In one of the outskirts of the capital city, there were two neighboring schools: “Al-Ma’arifah School” and “Al-Uloum School”. Al-Ma’arifah School had a football team called “Al-Nojoom”, and Al-Uloum School had a football team called “Al-Rawabi”.
The two schools were both well-organized and successful. Their attending students were polite and self-disciplined. The two schools frequently exchanged visits. The headteacher of Al-Ma’arifa and the headteacher of Al-Uloum were friends and visited each other to exchange ideas, and so did the teachers and students of both schools.
On school occasions, such as exhibitions, open days and graduation ceremonies, the headteachers, teachers and students of both schools cooperated in planning and implementing such occasions and ceremonies. They all worked together to maintain order and discipline.
Relationships between the two schools were very smooth. The situation was like this till last Saturday. On that day, a sad and disturbing incident took place. The incident made the relations between the two schools considerably tense. Disturbance and anger prevailed between students of both schools.
The incident occured during a football match between the two schools, Al-Nojoom and Al-Rawabi teams. Mr. Adel, the physical education (P.E.) teacher at AlMa’arifah school, was the referee of the match. Mr. Adel was well-known for his skills, integrity and sportsmanship or sports spirit. He was assisted by two assistant referees, Mr. Mahmoud, the P.E. teacher at Al-Uloum school and Mr. Fouad, P.E. teacher at AlMaarifah school. The three of them were colleagues and friends.
After the first half of the match was over, the result was a draw.Each team had one goal. The match in the first half was played very beautifully. Both teams were active. The spectators were as enthusiastic as the two teams: clapping, rejoicing and shouting with joy to every player who played well and to the goal keepers, whenever one of them saved a goal. Students of the two schools, boys and girls encouraged good players on both teams, no matter which school they attended. The second half started calm and smooth as usual. But ten minutes later, playing became very energetic and fiery. The players ran to and fro, back and forth, right and left, actively and enthusiastically, sometimes rushing fiercely.
In the midst of this stormy play, rejoice and shouting of the crowd, one player from Al-Rawabi, either accidentally or deliberately, collided with a player from Al-Nojoom in the penalty area of Al-Rawabi’s goal. Only God knows, some spectators said that it was a clear obstruction to prevent the player from shooting the ball into AlRawabi’s goal.
Al-Nojoom player, was unable to stand up. The First Aid team rushed to help him. They put him on the stretcher and carried him for treatment off the playing-field.
The referee, decided to give Al-Nojoom a penalty shot. His decision was supported by the two assistant – referees, and most of the spectators. But some students from AlUloum school did not like the decision and expressed their objection. Some bystanders objected too. This was followed by loud shouting and screams of protest, rejection and denunciation. Some students went even further and started to throw stones and empty bottles to the play-ground. The referee, his assistants, the two headteachers and the teachers tried to calm the situation in order to let the players continue the match, but their efforts went in vain.
They lost control. Disorder prevailed all over the place. It was a turmoil, which spread first through the bystanders, then reached the field. A great number of Al-Uloum students rushed to the field. Some tried to use violence against Al-Nojoom players, then against the referees. Teachers from both schools interfered and were able to put an end to the dispute. But everyone was so tense, it was impossible to continue the match.
The referee stopped the match, but some of Al-Ma’arifah students protested. They started shouting because their team had a chance to score a goal from the penalty area. But that was the end of it, and the students and the bystanders were made to leave. The dispute had a strong effect on all. The two headteachers were angry. The teachers were unhappy, and the students too, were unsatisfied. Al-Uloum students thought that their team, Al-Rawabi, was exposed to a conspiracy because the collision was unintentional. Al-Maarifah students considered that it was unfair to stop the match, which prevented their team from winning.
Sunday, the day after the match, was a school day when all the students spent all the morning talking about the incident of the previous day. Some students at both schools asked others to boycott the other school: No further cooperation, no exchange of visits on any occasion. The problem could have become even worse at Al-Ma’arifeh school if some wise teachers and students, Mr. Adel, the referee and P.E teacher, had not used their wisdom.
Mr. Adel and Mr. Fouad, invited the members of their team, AlNojoom, to a meeting. In that meeting, Mr. Adel asked the members their opinion of what happened on the previous day: - What do you think of the match of yesterday? One team member said: -Al-Uloum school invented a problem to prevent our victory. Another member said: - I know they do not like us. A third one said: - There are many schools in the country. We won’t play with Al-Rawabi any more, and we no longer want any relations with Al-Uloum school. A fourth said: - We should boycott them for ever. But another member, Fadi, stood up and said: - Listen colleagues. Any dispute between two parties is due to misunderstanding. They thought that the collision was unintentional, hence there shouldn’t be a penalty; while we believed, as Mr. Adel did, that it was an intentional hindrance. So, it is a misunderstanding which must be resolved by understanding in order to reach a solution to the problem.
Yazan, another team member, seconded that view-point and said: - I agree with Fadi. Anyway, it was just a match. Just because we didn’t win yesterday doesn’t mean we won’t win tomorrow. Other members also spoke, Sayf approved, and said: - If we don’t take the initiative to resolve this conflict and misunderstanding, then where is our sportsmanship? Tarek added: - We have many friends at Al-Uloum school, and what happened was not worth losing our friends. So on, and so forth, other members spoke: Jad, Karim, Naji, Rami, Zain Eddin and Adel. The attitude of understanding and wise conflict resolution, with Al-Rawabi team and Al-Uloum students, prevailed. They realized that there was no need for violence, enmity and boycotting.
Everyone seemed to have agreed on a wise solution to the problem. Mr. Adel, the P.E. teacher who was the referee of the match, said, Thank you very much. I am proud of you. Your sports spirit has overcome your feeling of unfair treatment. This is an ideal sport model. Mr. Fouad, the other P.E. teacher, at Al-Ma’arifah, stood up and said: I agree with Mr. Adel and appreciate this noble attitude of yours. Now, I invite you to form a committee from our team, Al-Nojoom, to initiate conflict resolution with our neighbors, Al-Rawabi team and Al-Uloum school.
A committee was formed of five members, three from Al-Nojoom team and two from the students’ council at the school. They asked Mr. Adel to chair the committee, because he was respected by the students of both schools and both teams and he agreed. They also asked Mr. Fouad to be the secretary of the committee and he also agreed, thanking them for their confidence. In the evening of that same day, Mr. Adel and Mr. Fouad called their friend Mr. Mahmoud, the P.E teacher at Al-Uloum school, who was an assistant referee with them. They told him about what they had arranged at their school, and asked him for his opinion, and what to do to end the misunderstanding and attain peaceful conflict resolution between the two teams and the two neighboring schools.
To the surprise of Mr. Adel and Mr. Fouad, Mr. Mahmoud told them that almost the same arrangement was made at Al-Uloum school. There, members of Al-Rawabi team met with their coach, Mr. Mahmoud, and after discussion, they unanimously agreed that the dispute was due to misunderstanding which was not worth boycotting and enmity between the two teams and two schools. He also told them that a committee was formed for resolving the conflict. The three teachers agreed on a meeting for the two committees on the next day after school hours. The meeting was held in the hall attached to the football field. Right at the beginning, it was clear that they were all friends who liked and respected each other.
Members of the two committees expressed their sorrow for what had happened during the last football match. They also emphasized that their relationship was too stronger to be threatened by a trivial incident, and they will not allow such a problem to spoil their intimacy, friendship and neighborhood. Before the end of the meeting, a member hurried to shake hands with someone from the other committee. Then all the other members rushed to shake hands and embrace each other. Joy and laughter prevailed, and refreshments and sweets were offered. At this stage, Mr. Mahmoud surprised the members by his question loudly: - Now, when shall we have the next match?
All clapped welcoming the idea. After discussions and consultations. They agreed on the following: First : To issue a statement, to be put on the notice boards of both schools and announced by the school broadcast. The statement will declare that the conflict was resolved, misunderstanding was removed and that students of both schools are friends as usual. Second: A friendly match will be organized between AlNojoom and Al-Rawabi teams next Saturday, at 3 p.m at the same playground. The two headteachers and teachers of both schools were happy and pleased with the conflict resolution and the return of the good relations between the two schools and the two teams. They exchanged congratulations for heeding the voice of reason.
Students of both schools expressed their pleasure with the new atmosphere. They were happy that they would not lose their friends because of a simple dispute. On Saturday, the friendly match was played. There were double the number of spectators from both schools.
Sportsmanship prevailed and was dominant through the whole match, from beginning to end. If one player fell, a player from the other team hurried to help him. If a player collided with another, he apologized to him. Nothing happened to disrupt the match.
The match ended in a draw. Each team had two goals. The viewers and the crowd greeted the players and referees. Everyone of the players took off his shirt and exchanged it with a player from the other team.
At the end of the game the two headteachers appeared. Al-Ma’arifah headteacher presented a cup to Al-Rawabi team, and Al-Uloum headteacher presented a cup to Al-Nojoom team.