Adnan Abu Al Sa’ud
Rafah, Gaza 2012
The Rachel Corrie Ramadan Football Tournament is a humble project with huge significance. For the past five years, people of Rafah have gathered at one of the community football fields on the border of Rafah and Egypt, to remember Rachel Corrie, who lost her life while standing in defiance in the face of Israeli bulldozers aimed at destroying the people’s homes in that area.
Organizers have met each year at the Jama’e Rafah Club which is adjacent to the Rafah – Egypt border, and a kilometer away from where Rachel was killed. Local teams flocked to register in the tournament to show solidarity with this young woman who came from a far place to support their rights as human beings. Their participation was spurred by gratitude to Rachel heroic efforts. They wanted to show to the whole world that they won’t forget Rachel who came to stand alongside the Palestinians in their plight.
Thirty two local teams from Rafah and beyond participated in the tournament/ The teams where: 1) Martyr Abu Ammar 2) Al Ittihad Al Wattani 3) Al Wehda 4) Al Basma Club for Disabled 5) Al Zu’rub 6) Al Quds 7) Martyr Abu Awadh 8) Al Ribatt 9) Al Ashur 10) Al Amal for Deaf 11) Al Rahma 12) Block J 13) Martyr Nader Abu Taha 14) MartyrAhmad Barbakh 15) Al Ta’awun 16) Ahli Al Mashru’ 17) Ittihad Al Sultan 18) Martyr Abu Yusef Al Najjar 19) Hittin 20) Abnaa Al Barazil 21) Al Nujoom 22) Jihad Al Mashru’ 23) Ittihad Al Barazil 24) Nojoom Seena 25) Baladiyet Al Sahel 26) Yebna 27) Ittihad Al Ummal 28) Martyr Haytham Nattatt 29) Al Sahafiyyin 30) Al Ubbur 31) Martyr Majdy Al Khattib 32) Shuhadaa Al Aqsa.
The schedule of the games was prepared according to the “knock out” style. The tournament started in the first day following the three days holiday of Eid Al Fitr. The 14 days tournament started with good organization in which three games were organized daily in 32 stages, in 16 games.
The results of these games were not surprising except for the upset defeat of team Abu Ammar, a strong team expected to win the cup of the tournament. The deaf players of Al Basma Club for the Disabled, though not as experienced, raised the level of energy, community spirit, and sportsmanship of the tournament.
As the tournament continued the degree of competition intensified as did the cheering of the audience. At the quarter final stage the excitement amidst the community was high, and the competitive fever at its peak by the ascendancy of team Nojoom Seena and team Al Rahma facing off in the final day.
The final day’s games were organized in a spectacular way. Dignitaries and sport guests were among the attendees sharing in the excitement of the Rafah audience, who insisted on showing solidarity for Rachel Corrie’s family – particularly after the notorious Israeli verdict regarding her case.
Before the final game, team Al Ittihad Al Wattani defeated team Block J, 5 – 0, and won the third place. Then started the final game between team Al Raham and team Nojoom Seena which showcased the skill of veteran players such as Mahmud Fahajan, Muhammad Kawar’e, Husni Abu Habibi and the brothers Eid and Muhammad Al Akkawi. The game was strong, swift and competitive. It ended with the goal by Eid Al Akkawi, the high scorer of his team and the tournament.
And so the field of Jam’e Rafah Club was the theatre stage for the final game and the audience came in droves to watch team Nojoom Seena crowned the champion of the 5th annual Rachel Corrie Ramadan Tournament; a great event implemented by Al Basma Club for Disabled in Gaza, in partnership with the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice in Olympia, Wa. All made possible by our many friends in America and around the world who have followed the progress of this grass-roots community sports event and generously supported it these last five years.
Immediately following the final game lead community organizers Al Mukhtar Hammad Hammad and Dr. Nabil Al Tahrawi, Head of Jam’e Rafah Club distributed gifts to the winning players of team Nojoom Seena, first rank, team Al Rahma, second rank, and team Al Ittihad Al Wattani, third rank. Also, there were gifts for Top Scorer: Eid Al Akkawi, Best Player: Rami Z’urub and Best Goalkeeper: Muhammad Ridwan.
Honorary guest Mahmoud Al Sarsak received a special award in recognition of his courageous hunger strike and the inspiration he gives to us all. Also awarded gifts were his children and the children of the hunger striker Akram Al Rikhawi, also of Rafah.
At the end of the tournament, several dignitaries and local sports celebrities expressed their joy and pride to the organizers of this event. They asserted that this solidarity event – particularly this year – aims at countering the efforts to silence the Corrie’s voices.
The efforts of the players and the support and enthusiasm of the wonderful audience who attended the final game was a clear indication that the efforts to deny justice will only galvanize more supporters to the cause Rachel Corrie stood and died for.