Children in Abu Dis, Palestine are confined by the Israeli occupation. On one side, their town is divided by the Separation Wall and on the other, lies the huge Israeli settlement of Maale Adumin. And in between, there is little safe space for children to play.
During a recent visit to Palestine with the Camden Abu dis Friendship Association, I met with a group of small girls with big ambitions. These girls come together twice a week to form the undefeated Palestinian Girls Football Team. They’re fierce, hardworking and determined — and despite the barriers they face, they know how to kick occupation in the face.
Rafe Rabee, a retired Palestinian footballer, created the team in early 2016 to offer young girls in Abu Dis a safe zone from the realities of life under occupation. According to the U.N., last year 30 Palestinian children were killed in the West Bank and at least 1,735 injured.
Coach Rafe uses football to try and bring a sense of normalcy to the girls lives but worries about the social and psychological impact the occupation is having. Heightened tensions continue to have a detrimental effect, creating an environment that is increasingly violent and oppressive.
This summer, as the world prepares for the 2016 Olympics, CADFA wants to bring the team to London to play football within a different context — one with no restrictions. But due to a lack of funding, they need your help.
Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.
For these girls, football offers a haven of hope and an opportunity for them to fulfill their true potential. Together, we can help give them a kick-start.