How a soccer league is helping Gaza victims cope with war trauma


Palestine PalestineThe first ever Palestinian national soccer team looks like any other team of sportsmen racing across the field, passing the soccer ball to hit a goal for their team. It is unless one looks at the full picture – they are running across the pitch on crutches, their prosthetic legs lined up at stadium sidelines.

The team has been drawn out from hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza Strip that have been victims of years of war between Israel and the militant group Hamas. With just one hope – game helps them cope with the trauma of years of war and hardships of living in a territory that has struggled through four wars.

41 year old Ziad Abu Halib, who lost his right leg in first Israel – Hamas war in 2008, said, “We feel we have something, we can give something.” Since joining the local soccer league when it was founded in 2019, Halib hasn’t missed a single practice session.

The Palestinian National Soccer Team has been formed with sponsoring of International Committee of Red Cross, working in close association with Palestinian Amputee Football Asscoiation. The team hopes to compete regionally, and then progress to the goal of participating in World Cup for amputees, to be held next October in Turkey. Qualifying matches are to begin in March in Iran. Now the only hope is that border restrictions ease out and they can travel to Iran through Egypt.

The rules for the World Cup for amputees has been modified accordingly in line with World Amputee Football Federation. The players are required to leave the prosthetic limbs on field sidelines and move with crutches. The crutches, however, cannot be used to advance the ball. Coach Simon Baker, a Red Cross consultant and founder of the Irish Amputee Football Association, has selected 20 players from 47 athletes that represent 5 Gaza Strip clubs. “They were tested (for) speed, agility, fitness and also looking at the skill,” Baker said. “We want the player that has everything” along with being a team player, he said.

The ruthless wars in the Gaza Strip have been catastrophic to the Palestinian population in the region. The pain is immense as the population feels trampled under the politics, with each day passing under terror and feeling of uncertainty of the next day. At such a time, the soccer league is providing a respite to amputees in Gaza, helping them cope with trauma of continuing war.



Sulaiman keeps an important eye on domestic and international politics while he has mastered history.

Leave a Reply

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