'Star defender' of Palestinian football stuck in Gaza

Star defender of Palestinian football stuck in Gaza

2 minutes, 54 seconds Read


'Star defender' of Palestinian football stuck in Gaza

Ibrahim says he is heartbroken to not get the chance to participate in the World Cup. Image by PALESTINIAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION


‘Star defender’ of Palestinian football stuck in Gaza.

The continuous bombardment contrasts sharply with the familiar sounds of cheering fans and referees blowing whistles that 21-year-old Ibrahim Abuimeir, a member of the Palestinian national football team, is accustomed to.

Alongside two teammates, Ahmed Kullab and Khaled Al-Nabris, Ibrahim should have been training for the World Cup Qualifiers; however, they find themselves trapped in Gaza, facing the daily threat of violence. Ibrahim survived an airstrike on October 30 that destroyed his house and claimed 17 lives among his neighbors.

Ahmed described life under siege and constant bombing as unpredictable, sharing that his cousin was killed in an attack.

Two of Ibrahim’s teammates also lost their lives while sitting in their homes, believing they were safe. Conditions in Gaza are challenging, with limited access to water and reliance on wells and solar-powered desalination for drinking water.

'Star defender' of Palestinian football stuck in Gaza

Neither Ahmed Kullab, Khaled Al-Nabris nor Ibrahim Abuimeir (left to right) will not be able to make Today’s game. Image by PALESTINIAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION


Ibrahim, recognized as one of the star defenders of the Palestinian team, begins his day by standing in line for water. Grateful for surviving amidst the harsh conditions, the absence of the sport they love has cast a somber shadow on their lives.

Expressing his heartbreak, Ibrahim laments the missed opportunity to participate in the World Cup, emphasizing that football is his entire life. The emotional toll deepens each day as 44 days have passed without playing.

In the midst of war’s grief, the pain lies in missing a crucial opportunity, especially in sports careers that often have limited durations. Ahmed echoes this sentiment, stating that football has been a lifelong dream, and missing the chance to join the first team of the Palestinian football team saddens him deeply.

Ibrahim managed to catch ten minutes of a match played by the Palestinian team, experiencing a mix of sadness and pride as he watched from afar.

I met Ehab Abujazar, a former player turned trainer of the Palestinian national football team, in Ramallah, West Bank. Ehab, who has trained Ahmed and Ibrahim for many years, shared the challenges faced by his family in Gaza during the ongoing conflict. He revealed that his father passed away on the second day of the war, and due to the conflict, he couldn’t bid him farewell. Ehab emphasized the constant danger in Gaza, leading his family to seek safer places for shelter.

Even before the war, players in Gaza faced hurdles in obtaining permission to play. Ehab explained that negotiations with the Israeli government, along with FIFA’s intervention, had slightly eased the process. Ibrahim detailed the elaborate process of leaving Gaza, involving hours of waiting and paperwork at the Rafah crossing, escorted transit to the Egyptian side, and waiting at the airport until the flight time. Despite the challenges, the players were dedicated to the game.

Amidst the war’s toll, I asked Ehab about the importance of the Palestinian team continuing to play football. He stressed the crucial role of football in showcasing Palestinian resilience, emphasizing that it is more than a game—it is a means to pursue the dream of an officially recognized state for every Palestinian.

Ahmed echoed this sentiment, stating that football serves as a powerful demonstration of the humanity, ambitions, dreams, and talents of the Palestinian people, despite the challenges they face.


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *