Thaslima Begum travelled to Palestine with Camden-based human rights charity CADFA. She met with a group of small girls with big ambitions, who have little safe space to play but come together twice a week as the undefeated Palestinian Girls.
This summer, CADFA want to bring the girls to London to play football and need your help! Together, we can help to give these girls a kick-start.
SK: How, when and why did the team start up?
TB: The Palestinian Girls Football Team was created in early 2016 to offer young girls in Abu Dis a safe zone from the realities of life under occupation. The team was formed by Coach Rafe Rabee, a retired Palestinian footballer, who trains the girls twice a week at Abu Dis Youth Club. He wishes to teach the girls football as a source of empowerment, to increase their self-esteem and raise awareness on the importance of sports for women.
SK: What is your biggest challenge as a football team?
TB: The restriction of movement means the girls aren’t able to compete against other teams in different towns and the numerous checkpoints makes it difficult for some of the girls to attend practice. Night raids are common and Coach Rafe uses football to try and bring a sense of normalcy to the girls he teaches but worries about the social and psychological impact the occupation is having. Additionally, Abu Dis Youth Club where the girls play lacks basic sports equipment and is in need of improved facilities, however funding is limited.
SK: Why London, in particular, for a destination to play?
TB: London is the street corner of the world, where people of all nationalities gather to unite under one umbrella. Its rich diversity offers the girls a unique chance to experience many cultures in one destination. It is a city without limits that will undoubtedly leave them inspired of the limitless opportunities the world has to offer.
SK: What are the girls' footballing ambitions?
TB: The girls each have their own ambitions but ultimately share one same goal - to live in a world where they can play freely without fear or restriction. They dream of great things: sports, friends, travel and freedom - which should be available to all children but despite the obstacles they face, they remain optimistic.
By using sport as a tool for social development and fostering teamwork, football offers the girls a haven of hope and an opportunity for them to fulfil their true potential. Many wish to go on to play internationally and want to use their talent to put Palestine back on the map.
Meet some of the team:
“We face big obstacles. Because of the checkpoints, some days it’s difficult to just get here. But our dreams are bigger”. Daren (Age 10) Centre-back
“One day, I will play internationally”.
Malak (Age 10) Defender
“I’m not great - the other girls play better than me. But I try my best”.
Aseel (Age 8) Full-back
“The rules don’t always make sense. Sometimes you just have to go for it”.
Roua (Age 9) Wing-back
“Every game is a new opportunity”.
Ranem (Age 9) Full-back
CADFA are now running a competition in partnership with www.icons.com/
Want a signed photograph of your favourite footballer? Donate now for your chance to win! http://bit.ly/24ULCHS
They also have a bid for a signed Messi or Ronaldo t-shirt.
There is a fundraising tournament:
12 August at 16:00–20:00
The Calthorpe Project
258-274 Gray’s Inn Road
London, WC1X 8LH
Neither are workable or likely at present but hypothetically, would you prefer a more strict salary cap in the FA WSL OR should centrally contracted England players (that receive salaries from The FA) be allocated more evenly around WSL1 clubs?