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Football, a symbol of peace for Palestine

  • Published at 10:12 pm October 2nd, 2018
Sameh Maraaba
Palestine football team forward Sameh Maraaba Md Manik

Many of the players face obstacles to becoming a footballer but they believe that with every barrier, they become even grittier and their hunger to win increases along with their desire to achieve freedom

Their homeland is occupied, their lives are in constant danger at the valley of fear, but the young footballers of Palestine have taken the game as the symbol of their protest and want to disseminate the message of peace through it.

No wonder, despite their fragile situation with the surveillance of Israeli forces, the team rose to 100th position in the Fifa rankings and are the highest-ranked side of the ongoing six-nation Bangabandhu Gold Cup 2018.

Bangladesh Football Federation deserves plaudits as for the first time in the fifth edition no nation has send their age-group team and the presence of the freedom-seeking Palestine team added further glory to the tournament.

Many of the players face obstacles to becoming a footballer but they believe that with every barrier, they become even grittier and their hunger to win increases along with their desire to achieve freedom

There are a dozen players in the Palestine squad that had featured in the national team’s last match against Qatar on September 11. The team is preparing for the Asian Cup 2019 and its interim coach Noureddine Ali admitted that the BGC offers an opportunity to know more about the depth of the squad.

Along with the coach, Palestine forward Sameh Maraaba also talked to the media at the hotel lobby Tuesday. Both of them raised voices against Israel’s occupation in the country that interrupted their regular playing activities.

“We have many difficulties regarding football. While passing through the borders the Israelis always want to delay us for hours and hours. They arrest our players. I was arrested for eight months [in 2014] from Israeli occupation just because I was growing up as a football star,” said Maraaba through the team doctor as interpreter.  

He added, “All the difficulties the Israelis put on us make us even stronger, to believe that we can deliver our message through football all over the world. Football is not just about playing games but it is the also the message of peace.”

“The players have to arrive three to five hour before the match, because they are afraid of Israeli checkpoints. They have checkpoints between the cities and they can stop you for hours. To make sure we arrive on time for match, players always have to waste more and more time trying to avoid Israeli restrictions on the Palestinians.”

Coach Noureddine Ali said that he is happy to be in Bangladesh. He also informed that they have 16 players in national team contention who play in the leagues of Sweden [4 players], Slovenia [3], Chile [2], Egypt [2] and etc. Most of the Palestine players play in the West Bank league.  

Palestine will kick off their Bangabandhu Gold Cup campaign in a Group A game against Tajikistan on Thursday.