"It's a great honor for me to represent Israel," Munas Dabbur, an Israeli Arab striker who plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv, told CNN.
"I always felt that I was proud to be invited to the team and I want it to continue.
"I think this tournament can be really important for football in Israel. It's the first time we've had games like this in the country and there's been a huge push. I hope that this will continue in the future."
It is a sentiment echoed by his Jewish teammates.
Omri Altman, 19, plays his football in England with Premier League club Fulham and says the pictures he sees on television bear little resemblance to the country he calls "home."
"My friends at Fulham think, ' Israel, oh, it's very scary.' They don't want to come here to visit because they hear in the news about the things which happen here," Altman said.
"But it's different. You come here, it's very quiet in most of the areas. So when teams come to play here, I hope the whole world will see that.
"I think it's very important that the tournament has come to Israel.
"In our team, we're all friends and everybody is the same. We are all people, it doesn't matter where we come from and who we are. We come to play football and that's the most important thing."
These words would have been noted by the next generation of talent, young hopefuls who have been watching an international football tournament in their own backyard for the very first time.
While Altman and Dabur were busy on the pitch, hundreds of young children were given free tickets to watch the games.
Some of those were from Mifalot. They hope that the example set by their nation's young footballers can spread a message beyond the country's borders.
While the U21 players were busy playing in modern stadiums, hundreds of others were running around fields, concrete courts and dirt tracks pretending to be an international footballer.
"I think that this project is great," said Nasser, a Palestinian coordinator in Sussiya, in the West Bank.
"The activities and interaction greatly helped the kids get to know others who are different and to play together as one group.
"I hear the kids talking and they really enjoyed themselves."
Another group bringing communities together is the New Israel Fund (NIF), which works alongside the Israeli Football Association (IFA).
Founded in 2003, the NIF's Kick Racism and Violence out of Soccer scheme has flourished, with the charity supporting civil society organizations working towards social justice, women's rights and environmentalism.
Back in 2007, a survey it carried out concluded that 60% of Israelis believed more needed to be done to tackle racism in football, while 37% said they would attend more games if the situation improved.
Through the work of the NIF, the IFA began to punish clubs with fines for racist abuse.
Suan was a founding member of the Kick Racism and Violence out of Football organization, and he says sport can be the vehicle which unites people in one of the world's most troubled regions.
As one of the few Arab players to wear the Israeli soccer shirt at the time, Suan says he suffered abuse every time he touched the ball until a groundbreaking moment.
In the final minute of a qualifying game for the 2006 World Cup, Suan unleashed an astonishing effort which clinched a 1-1 draw against the Republic of Ireland, and etched his name into Israeli folklore.