Kicking goals in the Strip

The National reports on the ways in which Gazans struggle to maintain a sense of normality:

There’s an unexpected expanse of green a little up a side street in the Tel al-Hawa district of Gaza City that provides welcome relief to the eyes amid the concrete buildings, the grey rubble and the potholed streets that otherwise form Gaza’s streetscape.

The Al Shams Sports Club’s first team was being put through its paces on this green, the club’s football pitch, on a hot, sticky afternoon in early August. Around the pitch several younger boys were either watching or chatting among themselves near the clubhouse.

Many of them are students in the club’s private football school, the first of its kind in Gaza, which was launched in May. About 140 boys from 6 to 16 have now joined the school that is an attempt, in the words of Eyad Si-Salem, one of the coaches and a club administrator, to offer some options for Gaza’s youth.

“There is a lack of everything in Gaza,” said Mr Si-Salem, a former football player. “Sport and football is important. It’s the most popular sport in Palestine, it is thrilling and it teaches leadership, discipline and teamwork.”

Text and images ©2023 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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