The seventh annual Rachel Corrie Football Tournament came to an end in the evening of September 25th, this month. The tournament was made possible by the financial support of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice and the oversight of Al Basma Club for Disabled. The tournament was directly organized by the members of Sarafand Al Ammar Community Charity and took place in the sports gymnasium of the Khadamat Rafah Sports Club. The event started on Sept., 14th and ended on Sept., 25th — eleven working days with one day off.
The tournament usually takes place during the Ramadan month each year when many people have time off to participate and enjoy the football action. This year however it was postponed ten weeks after the end of the recent war on Gaza. Despite the new timing of the tournament, it witnessed a remarkable success in terms of number of distinguished teams and players and also in terms of the gradual increase of the audience specially in the final games. We are very please with the success of this tournament, particularly as it was organized and conducted under extreme duress and uncertainty.
With the announcement of the timing of the tournament, some seventy teams hastened to register showing their willingness to participate in the event. The organizers chose only 32 based on their past performance with priority to teams from outside Rafah. Same as last year, the teams chose their favorite city or village in historic Palestine and adopted it as their symbolic name during the tournament. A few teams took the name of a person killed in the recent attack. Below are the original and symbolic names of the participating teams:
1. Al Uboor, Sarafand Al Ammar 2. Martyre Fathi Al Shaqaqi 3. Karatiya, Isdud, Isdud, 4. Martyre Abd Al Kareem Al Sabaheen, Jerusalem, 5. Nujoom Sainaa, Tal Al Rabe’, 6. Be’r Salem, Be’r Salem, 7. Al Nujoom, Yazur, 8. Martyre Yaser Arafat, Jaffa, 9. Al Ittihad Al Wattani, Taberia, 10. Martyre Fathi Abu Ghali, Yebna, 11. Martyre Fathi Khader, Brayr, 12. Martyre Nidal Musa, Aqir, 13. Al Hurriyya, Wadi Hunayn, 14. Martyre Naser Abu Al Najaa, Barbara, 15. Tal Al Sultan, Safad, 16. Yebna Charity, Zarnuqa, 17.Dayr Yasin, Dayr Yasin, 18. Martyre Tamer Al Aydi, Al Ramla, 19. Martyre Umar Abu Marzuq, Hamameh, 20. Al Tarabin, Bisan, 21. Hay Al Salm, Haifa, 22. Ahali Tal Sultan, Akko, 23. Abd Al Rahman Al Zameli, Beit Daras, 24. Bank of Palestine, Burqa, 25. Al Wehda, Simsim, 26. Al Rahma, Al Majdal, 27. Al Damur, Al Nasera, 28. Al Shuhadaa, Al Jura, 29. Sport king, Be’rshaba, 30. Al Taawun, Al Falujah, 31. Muntad Al Muhandes, Hatta, 32. Martyre Abu Yusef Al Najjar, Heribya.
These teams participated in the tournament with a thrilling competitive spirit, and they included amongst their ranks players from different areas of the Gaza Strip — including for the first time teams from Khanyunis, Al Nussayrat and Gaza City, participated in the tournament — with all teams displaying an appreciation for fair play. The number of players in this tournament reached 350, eleven for each team. Players also came from different segments of the society including civil society institutions, sport clubs, popular arenas and amateurs.
First Rank Teams
Al Ramla team (Martyre Tamer Al Aydi) was crowned the champion of the tournament after entertaining the audience with a distinguished performance that ended with its victory (1/2) over Yebna team (Martyre Fathi Abu Ghali) in penalties.
Taberia team (Al Ittihad Al Wattani) obtained the third rank after defeating Be’rshaba (Sport King) in penalties. It worth noting that Taberia obtained the big title in last year tournament.
With regard to the individual prizes for this year, Ahmad Ekkawi received the Sportsmanship award, Noran Al Sabheen was best goalkeeper, and Said Sebakhi was top scorer after scoring seven goals in this tournament.
Despite having to organizing the tournament during business hours and despite the postponement of the tournament from Ramadan month to two and a half month later, the tournament drew an audience from Rafah and beyond with attendance growing during the event until reaching up to 3000 spectators in the final day celebrating and cheering their favorite teams.
The Tournament Timing
The timing of the tournament aims at sending a strong sport message to the world — specially following the recent war that targeted everything in Gaza and halting most activities including sports. With the Rachel Corrie Football Tournament being the first sport event that followed the war, it attracted professional club players from all areas of the Gaza Strip. The tournament message to the world was that the Palestinian youth spirit was not defeated or broken by the recent war. Palestinian youth deserve to live normally and hope for a better future in which they can take advantage and develop their potentials through sport.
On the other hand, some players whom their houses being demolished or their family members killed, have participated in the tournament specially Mahmoud Al Neirab, the famous player who lost his mother and three sisters in an air strike bombing to house. He insisted on participating despite his tragedy and the audience encouraged him and appreciated his steadfastness and resilience.
Among the many personal stories embodied by this this tournament is that of Tamer Al Aydi who was killed during the war. Tamer was on the Rachel Corrie tournament logistics team, and a very popular figure in the local football community in Rafah. Al Ramla team originally registered in the tournament under the name of the destroyed village of Al Aydi but took Tamer’s name as their team name. After winning this year’s cup, in gratitude for his football activism, the team players presented the cup to Samer’s soul.
The organizers of the Rachel Corrie Ramadan Football Tournament for Young Men wish to thank all of the people who have supported this tournament. With this tournament we have created a real way to support our community and strengthen personal connections in our community, and with our friends around the world.
Adnan Abu Al Sa’ud
Rachel Corrie Ramadan Football Tournament, Gaza