Palestine Football: Escape to Victory?

October 27, 2008 by admin  
Filed under Culture

I have been extremely heartened to read that the first International friendly match was played in Palestine for the first time yesterday as the Palestinian National side drew 1-1 with neighbor and rival, Jordan. Now that FIFA has officially recognized Palestine’s right to play a home match (for the first time in its history), is that not a form of International recognition of the State of Palestine?

An overjoyed fan at Ramallah’s new FIFA-sponsored $4 million football stadium summed it up perfectly:

Our national team, in our stadium, means we exist no less than any other nation in the world.

What is more encouraging is that unlike International matches played in Jordan or Qatar (as has been the norm for the Palestinian Team), several players from Gaza were allowed to travel, including Palestine’s first goal scorer on home soil, Ahmed Kashkash.

The Palestinian national team (in white) and the Jordanian team pose for a photograph before their friendly football match at the newly refurbished stadium in the West Bank town of al-Ram.

The Palestinian national team (in white) and the Jordanian team pose for a photograph before their friendly football match at the newly refurbished stadium in the West Bank town of al-Ram.

After months of negotiation, Israel finally granted 2-day passes to several Gaza players, although any International Football Manager will tell you that 2 days is far from adequate to train and acclimate the players to all aspects of the team’s gameplan.  Worse, several Palestinian players (many rated as the best in the squad) were not allowed access to the West Bank to join the National Team for reasons Israel has defended as ’security concerns’.

So while we can rejoice at the tremendous odds surmounted by a National Team under Occupation, I can’t help but feel an odd correlation to the less than polished 1981 World War II film, Escape to Victory (or simply Victory in the US). I will do you the service of not dwelling too long on this rather simple film - but its premise is strangely similar to what occurred yesterday in Ramallah. Let’s see:

Imprisoned football players living in camps struggling to form a team = Check.

Occupiers deny many of the best players access to the team = Check.

Local crowd (amidst Occupation) feel national pride for the first time years = Check.

Heroic match ends in a symbolic draw = Check.

Now is indeed the time for heroes - real ones.

Now is indeed the time for heroes - real ones.

Only problem with that film - it was FICTION. Luckily there is some tidy reality left to keep us entertained. That’s better than Hollywood any day, and for those searching for yet another reason to recognize Palestine and what can be achieved even under Occupation, there is no better evidence. Hopefully this bit of news can appeal to those who require a little hand holding - or simply to those who know a good script when they see one.

Regardless, Bravo Palestine! I’m off to buy my new team jersey…

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4 Responses to “Palestine Football: Escape to Victory?”
  1. tex says:

    I’m looking for a palestine jersey too, where is it possible to get one the big soccer stores don’t carry them i’ve noticed

  2. Alajnabiya says:

    Unfortunately, they managed to schedule this game during the week most schools were having mid semester exams. My youngest son was dying to go, but he had an exam the next day, so we watched a bit of it on TV. I was wondering why they had built up that stadium so much over the last year. It’s certainly nice to see something so “normal” as this match going on here, but I honestly don’t know if it was worth $4 million when plenty of our teachers are still not getting paid their full salaries.

  3. Rola says:

    I understand what you are saying Alajnabiya, as I have family members in Falasteen who are teachers, but I will say most of the money raised for this stadium was from outside. I know FIFA contributed quite a bit.


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  1. [...] simply locate and purchase a Palestine National Team football jersey. Brimming with respect for the accomplishments of the Palestinian National side against Jordan in Ramallah on Sunday, I felt it my duty to proudly [...]

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