My Story: Itsik Kalis from the ITC – Tiberias
Born in France, Itsik Kalis was eight years old when he and his family immigrated to Israel in 1981 and settled in the Northern city of Tiberias. Twenty one years later, Itsik still lives in the city in which he grew up with his wife Sima and their three children Adi, Liron and Noam. Working at the Israel Tennis Center in Tiberias for over two years as a maintenance man, last month Itsik successfully completed a coaching course at the ITC – Kiryat Shmona.
Itsik did not graduate from high school and enlisted in the Army at age 18, where he was sent to patrol Israel’s Northern borders. After his discharge three years later, Itsik began looking for work and trained to become a carpenter. Many years later, he heard the ITC – Tiberias was looking for a maintenance man. Itsik immediately applied and was hired. Thus began Itsik’s love affair with the game of tennis.
“I was playing about twice a week in a group for adults and my kids started playing tennis too. Aside from taking care of all the maintenance work, I also became a counselor for the children of the Embrace Project, participating in many different activities with them,” recall Itsik. “Tal, the manager of the ITC – Tiberias, noticed how much I was enjoying myself and how much my tennis improved and suggested I complete a coaching course, so I would be able to coach tennis”.
Itsik during the course
Itsik explains: “Initially I was really worried and a little scared. I’m not very good at studying and I didn’t know if I would be able to pass the tests. It was all new to me and a great challenge, but at the same time, I realized coaching could give me great hope for my future. Tal and ITC CEO Danny Gelley, who I had met on a number of occasions, really encouraged me and helped me realize that I could be a really good coach”.
A few months later, during July of 2012, Itsik joined the coaching course that was set to begin at the ITC – Kiryat Shmona under the guidance of Shaul Zohar, the ITC – Kiryat Shmona Center Manager, and Danny Rosenbaum, the Manager of the ITC’s Achievement Program. Istik successfully completed the course and became a certified tennis coach. He has already begun coaching two adult groups and one group of children with special needs.
Manager of the ITC – Tiberias, Tal Amsalem: “Itsik is very motivated and he has a strong desire to learn and develop. He has an infectious personality and all the children love him so it was a very easy decision for me to send him to a coaches course. Itsik really represents the ITC ideology, which is to develop workers internally and to empower them. I wish him luck for the future and I hope he will continue to learn and develop as a coach”.
“Tal, Shaul and Danny were amazing and I am so grateful for all the help I received from them,” says Itsik. “Shaul knew that it would be very difficult for me financially, as I had to take a month off from work, so he managed to obtain a scholarship to help me. Without the ITC’s support, I would have definitely not been able to pursue this ambition”.
Itsik looks forward to his new career and sums up the exprience thus far: “The whole course was so much fun. It was a great experience, a lot of hard work and I am so happy that I managed to complete it. Even though it’s not easy, I really love being out on the courts. I want to thank everyone at the ITC who gave me this amazing opportunity – now I would like to give back and help in any way I can”.
About The Israel Tennis Centers Foundation (“ITC”):
The ITC is a non-profit organization (formerly known as The Israel Children’s Centers is a 501 (c)) that works to enhance the social, psychological and physical development of Israeli children through the medium of sport. We provide a healthy and structured environment for children from all walks of life, teaching values of cooperation, persistence and tolerance. Thirty-five years after the inauguration of the first Israel Tennis Center in Ramat Hasharon, the ITC has expanded throughout Israel and has nurtured and empowered more children and adults than the original founders could have ever dreamed. Currently one of the largest social-service agencies for children in Israel, the ITC operates 14 Centers throughout Israel’s periphery within socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. The Centers are complete with cutting edge facilities and tennis courts that serve over 20,000 children. For additional background please visit: http://www.israeltenniscenters.org