Football fans have been glued to their TV sets for the past few weeks, watching the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Patients at Ma’ale Hacarmel celebrated together with members of the Tirat HaCarmel community.
The 33rd minute of the semi-final game between Argentina and Croatia had fans cheering around the world when Lionel Messi scored the first goal. At that exact moment, in a small auditorium at the Ma'ale HaCarmel Mental Health Medical Center (Ma'ale HaCarmel) in Tirat HaCarmel, near Haifa, dozens of spectators rose to their feet, formed a human wave, and roared with joy.
This event was more than just another football game – Ma'ale HaCarmel opened its doors to the general public and invited them to join the patients and share this experience. Representatives of youth movements, Tirat HaCarmel residents, and Ma'ale HaCarmel patients with their relatives and caregivers celebrated together. Aryeh Tal, Mayor of Tirat HaCarmel, Dr. Eyal Fruchter, Director of Ma'ale HaCarmel Mental Health Medical Center, and football fans joined in the excitement.
After the event, Fruchter said, "This event broke down barriers. We hosted patients, staff, families, and members of the community. The event, in collaboration with the Tirat HaCarmel Municipality and Ma'ale HaCarmel, was memorable." Fruchter explained the rationale behind this initiative: "Sports has a wonderful way of uniting people and bridging the differences between them; conflicts, borders, beliefs, and religions. We intended to make the biggest sports event in the world, an experience to unite people from all walks of life. We broke down barriers just by sitting in front of a TV screen."
One of the guests said, "This is something unusual, creating unity and social discourse, and it is so simple to do. Hopefully, this is just the beginning." Aryeh Tal commented: "Unity is a pillar of the Tirat HaCarmel community, and there is nothing like football to unite people. I want to thank Rambam HCC; Ma'ale HaCarmel Mental Health Medical Center and its director, Dr. Eyal Fruchter; residents of Tirat HaCarmel; Lionel Messi and the Argentina national football team, for a fantastic game and now on their way to the final."