Gaza Kids to Ireland 2017– Media

Here’s some of the coverage of this year’s brilliant visit from the kids from the Al Helal Football Academy, Gaza, Palestine #COYBFG

Leitrim Observer

FAI Report

FAI Palestinian children take part in Irishtown friendly

Warm welcome for children from Gaza ahead of football tour around Ireland

From Gaza to Sandymount: Teens living under blockade enjoy first trip abroad and enjoy kick-about on Dublin beach

Gaza Kids to Ireland welcomes young footballers for Irish tour

Children Arrive for ‘Gaza Kids to Ireland’ Football Tour

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Beautiful shots at Ballinteer St. John’s GAA
PICTURED: Gaza children arrive in Dublin to play hurling and raise awareness

A GAA-s time for Gaza kids

Great TV3 Report on Sandymount Strand – about 11.30 minutes in
Gaza Kids on Sandymount Strand

‘Gaza Kids’ soccer tour #COYBFG kicks off in Ireland with welcome by Dublin City Mayor

Galway Bay FM: Gaza Kids Come Back to Galway

Gaza Kids To Tallaght call on local community for support

Gaza Kids to Ireland welcomes young footballers for Irish tour

Ocean FM: Palestinian children to take part in Manorhamilton Rangers matches

Great piece by Emmet Malone in the Irish Times

Palestinian visitors melt Irish hearts as football finally takes centre-stage

“By the middle of next week, they will be back home again, and trying to play their football again in what has often been described, even by then British Prime Minister, David Cameron, as open air prison. In 10 years time, if they get the chance to develop their talent, they might be representing it and the rest of what they regard as their country in international competition. As things stand, though, there is absolutely no basis to believe that the challenges they face will be any different to now.

Fifa will still be kicking to touch with perhaps the most likely thing to have the changed, the number of clubs defying the rules and making life a little awkward for handsomely rewarded officials who just want to be liked by all the members of the great, dysfunctional fiction that is the football family.”

Video: Gaza Kids touch down in Dublin

RTÉ Video Report on Manorhamilton Visit

Palestinian footballers taste success on Leitrim visit

Cork: Palestinian youth side to play against Blackpool’s Castleview tomorrow

Today FM, Al Porter Show Gaza Action Ireland Coordinator Zoe Lawlor 40 minutes in

Zoe Lawlor Today FM

Young footballers from Gaza arrive in Cork for Mardyke Arena game

Strong piece in the Irish Times on the Cork visit

Gaza academy u-15 team get warm welcome in Cork for soccer friendly

Academy president, Ayed Abu Ramadan was delighted with the welcome they received in Cork. “We are overwhelmed at the generosity of the Irish people for inviting our young players here and I can see the impact that it has on them, not just as footballers but also in terms of their personal development as it teaches about the other,” said Mr Ramadan. “It’s great that they get to see that the world is not all like Gaza because back home we don’t see any other people – we see just ourselves and the Israeli army and they think the whole world is like Israel so a visit like this reinforces hope for them for the future.”

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The Shebab from Gaza Came Back

They came back again, the shebab from Al Helal Football Academy in Gaza came back! Big brown eyes, big wide smiles and huge hearts, that’s what they brought to us, again. After bringing the Gaza Kids to Ireland last year and how successful and uplifting it was, we decided to do it again. The project is about practical solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza and opening up windows between here and there. We want to show the people there that although they are living under a brutal, illegal siege, with the full complicity of the international community, including the Irish government, that there are lots of people here who care and who want to show solidarity. It is also a way to raise awareness of what is going on in Gaza, in Palestine. The media here ignores the constant violence that Israel inflicts on Gaza, it ignores the power cuts, the raw sewage flowing into the sea, the mass poverty and unemployment, the chronic state of the healthcare system, the prison conditions and the daily cruelty of the siege, the occupation, the apartheid. They only talk about Gaza when it’s being militarily attacked, and then it’s through an Israeli and racist prism.

We want to share and amplify the voice of Palestinian children, to let them show how brilliant and lovely and deserving of the exact same rights as all kids they are. And we want people to see their football skills!

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It seemed like it might not happen this year, with the worsening squeeze on Gaza and the total unpredictability of Israel’s control of people’s movement, Palestinians need permits from Israel to exit and enter Gaza, with most refused and even thousands of severe medical cases denied every year. It is essentially a prison with all movement controlled by Israel.

This situation also makes planning very difficult, you have to make an itinerary with the proviso that it may all be delayed or may never happen. Until the night before they travelled, the group had no idea whether they would be granted permits to leave Gaza. When they did find out at 9 the evening before, the leader and Chairman of the Academy, Ayed, was in Ramallah and had to get to Gaza and get everyone and everything organised for the following morning. It’s amazing that he did it, that they all did it.

As always with apartheid Israel, nothing is fully ‘allowed’ and every effort is made to mess things around. None of the Al Helal coaches were granted permits to leave, and neither was one player, the brilliant and lovely Khaled Jouda who was here last year. The journey from Gaza to Amman to fly here, although not long, takes a very long time and is arduous. One child who was also here last year, the lovely Yousef Jendaya, was turned back at the Erez crossing, despite having a permit to travel. Imagine the disappointment of that for him, he had to leave the group and go home, he was so upset, what cruelty to do that to a child. And every time you wonder why they do it, why do they behave like this? And it’s because they can, because cruelty is the default and, at all times, power and control must be exercised.  Due to the hold ups and questioning, the group missed their flight and had to scramble to find somewhere to stay late night in Amman and we had to try to find new flights, 21 of them, the next day.

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But they came, they came, and, despite that extra long, tiring journey and arriving into Dublin at 7.25 am, they played football that morning – against the Iveagh Trust and on Sandymount Strand. And they posed for photos and did media and smiled and played football and hurling, they had to be dragged in out of the rain. Their energy, enthusiasm and resilience was constant throughout the trip, they are the absolute best.

The reception the kids get all over Ireland is heartwarming, people are really delighted to meet them. They were welcomed and fed everywhere they went and we could have brought them to every county, so many were the offers. We couldn’t get everywhere but we did get to Dublin, Kinvara, Manorhamilton, Limerick and Cork. The kids played great football but they really missed not having a coach. Although we had the brilliant Azeez Yusuff with us again this year, the language barrier made coaching difficult, it is of course deliberate by Israel to prevent coaches from travelling with a team for a soccer tournament. So, they didn’t win every match this time, but they were always fast, skilled and brilliant. They also sang songs, danced, played the drums, played hurling and Gaelic football, visited waterfalls, parks, beaches, climbed walls, swam, did acrobatics and circus tricks, they had a mental shopping time in Limerick. The Shebab went to the Dubs game in Croke Park, getting recognised and acclaimed all the way to Croker. They were guard of honour for the Shamrock Rovers V Derry City game, in a great initiative by #GazaKidstoTallaght. They had met the President Michael D Higgins last year at Galway United but this year he came to Tallaght, for his first visit, especially to meet them. He made a speech and took loads of photos with the children, he chose to do that and we take it as a serious act of solidarity.

Being with the kids for the whole time they were here is a real privilege and I’m so lucky to have been able to do it. It means you get close and it’s an intense, emotional time. They are kind, funny, sweet, loving boys and they know how to slag! Last year’s bilingual ‘Nothing’ joke was a winner this year, as was a new ‘cooler’ one and the inevitable finger whirl on the high five,the craic of them. We had other jokes about bananas, my attempted banning of Despacito and the various smells on the bus. It was fun. Every night there was much running around corridors, dragging mattresses around the place, Facetime with family (usually sitting in the dark) and the mornings were a manic rush to replenish banana stocks, lash out the cheese and hummus sandwiches, and the ultimate challenge: trying to get everyone on the bus. On time. We never succeeded but Ayed, Azeez and myself gave it our best shot, every day.

This project is a real break for the kids from living under siege and this time they were much more emotional going home, I think it’s because of how much worse conditions in Gaza are now even than last year. At night, talking to the children’s families and friends online, they were almost always sitting in the dark due to only having a few hours of electricity per day. The situation there and what is being done to the people in Gaza is barbaric and it has to stop. From the solidarity shown to the group here, it is obvious that the Irish government is totally out of step with people here in its approach to Palestine. We will do this again, it’s not possible to stop something so enriching, so full of love and solidarity, and fun. This is absolutely a two way experience, in fact, it might just be more rewarding for people in Ireland, I know it lifts me up immensely.

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I miss the shebab and I talk to most of them every day online, still getting slagged…!

I want to see them again but it’s almost impossible to get into or out of Gaza. Will they be able to come again? Will all of them grow up with freedom of movement, with their rights upheld? That’s our job, to work as hard as we can to support the Palestinian struggle, especially through the BDS campaign.

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There are many people to thank for their brilliant efforts and organising, that’s for another post. This is just my personal gratitude to the kids for being, and for being here.

For now it’s #COYBFG and shukran shebab!  Ana mishteklekum. Abdelatif, Tamer, Khalifa, Abunajie, Karam,  Ahmed Abunajie, Seyam, Abu Nada, Abdelrahman Awad, Hanafy, Wael, Ismail, Motasem, Mohammed Abushar, Mohammed Yousef, Kemo, Abood Abusafia, Mahmoud.

Gaza Kids to Ireland 2017 Events and Fundraising

The Gaza Kids to Ireland are coming back!

As the trip last year was such an uplifting, joyous experience, we are doing it all again this summer! At the end of July, the kids from Al Helal Academy are coming to Ireland to play football and meet you!

The children will play against teams from Dublin, Leitrim, Kinvara, Limerick and Cork during their visit and will participate in family events. We want to show them some hospitality while they’re here so we hope you’ll come out to our events and support them.

You can read about last year here:Gaza Kids to Ireland – It Happened

If you want to give some money to the project, please do so here:  Donate!

July 20th

Limerick, Upstairs at Dolans – An Evening of Palestinian Music and Culture in Aid of the Gaza Kids to Ireland 8pm

July 20th

Gaza Kids Al Helal FC to Ballybrack FC! Fundraising gig July 20th 7.30pm Purty Kitchen, Dún Laoghaire

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July 23rd

Night at the Musicals in aid of Gaza Kids to Ireland 23rd July 8pm Civic Theatre, Tallaght. An evening of song and laughter featuring the songs of hit Broadway musicals such as Les Mis, Wicked, Rent, and more, performed by professionally trained singers. Tickets available here

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July 27th

Gaza Kids to Manorhamilton Table Quiz Thurs 27 July 8pm Gurn’s Bar, Manorhamilton, Leitrim. 

July 31st

Rematch! Kinvara United V Al Helal Football Academy, Gaza City 3pm Killina pitch, Kinvara, Co. Galway 

Palestine Comes to Kinvara! Tully’s Bar 8.30 pm

Music, dance and spoken word with renowned Palestinian percussionist Raed Said and Irish musicians.

The kids have been invited to the Shamrock Rovers V Derry game on 4th August, this is the Gaza Kids to Tallaght page, they are doing great work!

Facebook   Gaza Action Ireland
Twitter @GazaAI1

Email: infogazaactionireland@gmail.com

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Gaza Kids to Ireland – Media

RTE – Ballybrack Match Report 

Irish Times – Children’s Football Team from Palestine Arrive for Match

Gaza Kids to Ireland – Sandymount Beach

Clare FM from 31.45 – Interview 

Clare FM article

Newstalk  Interview-  About ¼ way through

Newstalk article – The Kids are their Window to the World Outside

Newstalk – Watch Gaza Kids Leave Ireland

Electronic Intifada – Gaza Football Club Dazzles Ireland

The Soccer Show – Al Helal Gaza Academy V Kinvara United

Lmerick Post – Gaza Brings Fancy Footwork to Limerick

Wexford Welcome for Palestinian Youths

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Limerick Live – Limerick Hosts U 14 soccer Team from Gaza

Palestine Monitor – Gaza Children Return After a 10-day Football Trip in Ireland

Broadsheet – Meanwhile in Nenagh

Galway Bay FM – Gaza Children Visit Kinvara

PNN – Israel Didn’t Break Spirit of Gaza Kids to Ireland

Irish America – Gaza Kids to Ireland Scheme a Success

Ireland Today – Kids Football Team from Gaza Enjoy a Historic Trip to Ireland

Tipperary Star- Nenagh Opens its Doors to U14 Gaza Soccer Team

FM 104 – Gaza Kids Play Football on Southside

Zazafl: Gaza Kids to Ireland – It Happened

The Shebab from Al Helal

Gaza Kids to Ireland – It Happened!

A wrap-up statement on the kids’ visit for all of you who have done so much over the last two weeks, and before that!
This stage of the Gaza Kids to Ireland project has drawn to a close with the group’s safe arrival home – to a rapturous reception in Gaza that underlines the importance of their journey.
The initiative, long in the making and supported financially and logistically by many groups and individuals, has been a real success, full of fun and football. The warmth and solidarity shown to our visitors by thousands of people all over Ireland has been overwhelming: they met a huge welcome wherever they went. Indeed, we could have brought them to every county in Ireland, such was the interest in and enthusiasm for their visit.
Bringing the group from Al Helal football academy was always going to be complicated, but it became really onerous due to obstacles Israel put in our path.
Initially a group of 22 travellers was due to arrive in Ireland for a 12-day visit on July 13th, flying from Amman, Jordan, via Istanbul; but their permits to leave the besieged Gaza strip weren’t granted by Israel, necessitating the postponement of the programme. When the permits were finally granted in late July, we had to try to reschedule everything very late, for a shorter visit – July 29th to August 8th.
Worse than the delay was the cruel refusal to issue permits to the entire group. One child from the group of 15 players, 13-year-old Karam Zidan, was prevented from travelling to Ireland, as were five of the seven adults due to travel: two coaches, a journalist, an administrator and the only woman, a specialist in children’s mental health.
Apart from the sad blow this represented for us and them, having just two adults with 14 children who had never before left Gaza, and who spoke very little English, made things very tough. If Israeli authorities intended to cause maximum disruption to the project by this decision, they very nearly succeeded. However, the travellers and those left behind decided the trip should go ahead; and due to the brilliance, kindness and boundless energy of Al Helal chairman Ayed Abu Ramadan and coach Moammed Alrawagh, alongside the voluntary efforts of many people in Ireland, the kids had constant support. We were also very lucky that Azeez Yusuff from Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI) joined us for the duration of the trip, as a coach, mentor and friend.
Those prevented from travelling were never far from our thoughts, especially Karam. He was wounded in the 2009 attack on Gaza, so it seems likely the apartheid state didn’t want people in Ireland to hear about his injuries. Left behind, however, he was an even more vivid reminder of what was done to him, and what is done to thousands of other Palestinian children, by Israel. “We are all Karam” was a constant refrain.
The kids from Al Helal football academy played games against Ballybrack FC, Kinvara United, Nenagh AFC, Nenagh Celtic and Pike Rovers (and beat them all!). They were also guests of Galway United for their league win over Dundalk – that night, the boys were the guard of honour, played on the pitch at half-time and met the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins!
The Palestinian Community in Ireland and the Palestinian diplomatic mission here, including Ambassador Ahmad Abdelrazek, were enthusiastic supporters throughout the visit. SARI and Shamrock Rovers helped create a great evening of beach football on Dublin’s Sandymount Strand. Existing organisations such as Nenagh Friends of Palestine, who hosted the children for half their visit, and the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, in Limerick and elsewhere, were vital to the project; more ad-hoc groups in Ballybrack, Kinvara, Wexford and Sandymount worked quickly and tirelessly to organise events. There weren’t enough mealtimes to visit all the restaurants that offered to feed the children!
Gaza Action Ireland hopes to continue working with Al-Helal and with football in Gaza, including supporting the development of the game for girls in the territory. We hope more visits, in both directions, will become possible.
This grassroots project couldn’t have happened without widespread support for fundraising, organising and hosting. It’s been absolutely brilliant. We couldn’t possibly name them all, but we thank everyone who played, donated, fundraised, fed, and lavished the children with gifts, hospitality and love.

Photos Felim Egan

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Brian Kerr launches ‘Gaza Kids to Ireland’

Gaza Action Ireland launched its Gaza Kids to Ireland project today in Dublin, with the support of Brian Kerr, former Irish national team manager,  who spoke very eloquently and passionately on the terrible and illegal obstacles apartheid Israel imposes on Palestinian football players both in Gaza and the West Bank. These include preventing the team from playing and training together, imprisoning players and coaches and have also seen players being shot, coupled with the bombing of the stadium in Gaza. In this light Kerr noted that the achievement of sports people in Palestine to continue to try to play and to compete successfully is remarkable. He also remembered the four children from the Bakr family who were murdered as they played football on the beach in Gaza this summer in Israel’s murderous assault which killed more than 2,200 people.

DONATE HERE

http://gazaactionireland.weebly.com/donate.html

Press release from GAI below, article from the Journal here. ‘7-year olds in Gaza have suffered three wars and yet they’re still trying to play football.’

Interview with Trevor Hogan on the Tubridy Show, from 49 mins. Irish Independent piece:  Gaza’s young footballers gear up for visit to Ireland

Many thanks to everyone who came along and have been helping out with this project, particularly to the chair and vice-chair of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Martin Quigley and Fatin Al Tamimi. Also to Peter Houlihan for the photos.

We will keep people notified on how to get involved with this project, meanwhile if you would like to donate, please see the Gaza Action Ireland website.

Follow us on twitter @GazaAI1

Free Palestine!

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Photo Peter Houlihan PH Photography

Brian Kerr launches ‘Gaza Kids to Ireland’

A TEAM of Palestinian children from the besieged Gaza strip will play football in Ireland next summer, thanks to an initiative launched today by former Irish manager and leading football pundit Brian Kerr.

Hundreds of children were killed and approximately 3,000 were injured in Israel’s summer onslaught on the territory.

“We’d love to do something to help all of Gaza’s kids to have a normal childhood,” Kerr said at the launch in Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin, today. “In the meantime we can show this small group of them our hospitality – and the special sort of solidarity that comes from competing on a football pitch.”

Under-14 members of the Al-Helal club, based in northern Gaza, will play against teams from Dublin, Tipperary, Limerick and Antrim during their visit next August.

The ‘Gaza Kids to Ireland’ trip will see the children make a daunting journey across Egypt’s Sinai Desert, because the simpler route through Israel is closed by the illegal siege, and because Gaza doesn’t have an airport. It is being organised by Gaza Action Ireland (GAI) and Antrim to Gaza, who need to raise thousands of euro to support the initiative.

Contributions can be made at www.gazaactionireland.ie.

“Most people in Ireland were sickened at the sight of what Gaza’s men, women and children suffered under Israeli bombardment in July and August,” ex-rugby international Trevor Hogan, one of the GAI organisers of the visit, said today. “But the maiming and murder of so many kids was especially heartbreaking.

“We’ve expressed our anger already, not only at last summer’s assault but at the ongoing siege of this small, densely populated territory,” Hogan added. “This trip offers us a different way to show our support for the children of Palestine.”

Al-Helal’s clubhouse was damaged in the Israeli assaults of 2012 and 2014. It stands close to the beach, but the sea there is usually too polluted with sewage for the children to play in it.

“Even in Ireland, playing football is often the main form of exercise and entertainment that is freely available to children,” Kerr, who is also a director of Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI), said. “Imagine what it must mean to Gaza’s kids, who have just lived through the third major attack in less than six years on the territory where they live.”

GAI coordinator Zoë Lawlor said the organisers were delighted to have the support of many Irish sportspeople.

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Event: Brian Kerr launches ‘Gaza Kids to Ireland’ football initiative

When: Wednesday, October 29, 2014, 11am

Where: Buswell’s Hotel, Molesworth Street, Dublin

 

A TEAM of Palestinian children will play football in Ireland next summer, thanks to an initiative to be launched next Wednesday by former Irish manager and leading football pundit Brian Kerr.

Ex-rugby international Trevor Hogan, one of the organisers of the visit, will also speak at the launch.

Under-14 members of the Al-Helal club, based in northern Gaza, will play against teams from Dublin, Tipperary, Limerick and Belfast during their visit next August.

The trip – which will see the children make a daunting journey across Egypt’s Sinai Desert, because the simpler route through Israel is closed by the siege – is being organised by Gaza Action Ireland and Antrim to Gaza, who need to raise thousands of euro to support the initiative.

Al-Helal’s clubhouse was damaged in the Israeli assaults of 2012 and 2014. With the nearby sea polluted by sewage, football is often the only exercise and entertainment available to Gaza’s children, who have just lived through the third major attack in less than six years on the territory where they live.

The organisers are pleased to have the support of many Irish sportspeople, including Kerr, who also serves as a director of SARI (Sport Against Racism Ireland).

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The children of Al Helal Football Club, Gaza.