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"Al-Mughayir Football Academy Overcomes Challenges, Inspires Future Palestinian Athletes"

Posted On: 03-03-2024 | National News , PNN TV Reports , Qarib Stories
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Amidst the ongoing Israeli military onslaught against the Palestinian people in Gaza, Israel is waging various wars against Palestinians in the West Bank. These include land confiscations, settler attacks, and the persecution of Palestinians in areas classified as C, even if their goal is simply to play football. Israeli measures prevent Palestinian citizens from investing in their land for construction purposes.

This is the situation facing the Maghir Football Academy in the Ramallah Governorate, where the Israeli occupation army, along with occupation authorities, prevents the villagers from building a small field that brings the village's youth together for a moment of enjoyment playing football, according to the academy's organizers.

Abu Alya: "We managed to launch and find an alternative playground challenging the occupation measures."

Despite the political difficulties represented by the occupation's measures, neglect, and lack of support from Palestinian authorities, as well as social obstacles standing in the way of girls who aspire to play football, the Maghir Football Academy managed to launch and succeed.

Speaking about the academy, Fadi Abu Alya, the director and coach of the players at the Maghir Football Academy, states that it was opened two years ago, hosting more than 50 players from all age groups. He points out that the academy faces harassment from the Israeli occupation, as they are prevented from the freedom to build and establish facilities due to being classified as Area C. This forces them to go to the nearby village of Turmus Ayya to play football on a small field there.

Abu Alya pointed out that the academy's participants, including football players, face various harassments from the army and its military checkpoints, hindering their early arrival at the Turmus Ayya field. Additionally, they are subjected to tear gas, sound bombs, and harassment during training.

In his conversation with PNN correspondent in Ramallah, Abu Alya mentioned that they tried to build a field on several occasions, but whenever they selected land, they were informed that these lands are located in Area C, making it prohibited to exploit or build on them. This complicates their lives and their passion for playing football.

Regarding the level of interest in the academy within the village, Abu Alya stated that there is interest among the village's youth, and there are many talented individuals participating in various tournaments. They have achieved successes in local tournaments and numerous friendly matches, expressing his hope for the team to reach international levels.

Abu Alya mentioned that several players were deprived by the occupation from continuing their sports careers, such as the martyr Laith Abu Naem. The occupation deprived him of completing his athletic journey towards international recognition. Abu Alya pointed out that Laith's brothers will continue his path towards international recognition.

Internal obstacles, notably the lack of attention, constitute significant challenges.

Furthermore, Abu Alya affirmed that there are several talented players, but there is not enough interest and sufficient follow-up on them or the academy to create a comfortable sports environment. This environment would allow them to showcase their talents in Palestinian football, emphasizing that the academy was established for these age groups to nurture their abilities and guide them towards professionalism.

He mentioned that he participated in various coaching courses in football culture and gained experience in other academies, such as "Hilal Jericho and Al-Bireh Professional Foundation." This helped him become a responsible football coach for a professional team to assist students and develop their skills.

He stressed that his ambition for the academy is for it to reach the Palestinian national team, represent Palestine abroad, achieve Asian and global accomplishments, and personally aspire to international recognition.

Abu Alya directed his message to talented Palestinian players, especially young ones, advising them to avoid harmful behaviors to their health, such as smoking and poor nutrition. He encouraged them to focus on sports, as it is the key to a healthy life. He also advised young children to play outside the field and run, as it helps them reach the highest level in football.

Players: Stories of Success and Resilience - Haitham Abu Naem as an Example

Children from the village gather on training days at the entrance of Al-Mughayyer village, waiting for the bus that takes them about ten kilometers to the field in Turmus Ayya. The academy arranges transportation on specific days for training, and the students eagerly anticipate these training days.

About the children, Coach Abu Alya mentioned that they come to register seeking a chance for joy amid the challenging circumstances resulting from the war on Gaza or the continued attacks by settlers on villages and Palestinian citizens.

Abu Alya further clarified that two brothers have enrolled in the academy to continue the path of their martyred brother who loved football and was killed by settlers' bullets. These are the brothers of the martyr Laith, and Haitham Abu Naem is one of them. Abu Alya noted that he coaches the brother of a martyr.

One of these children is Haitham Abu Naem, the brother of the martyr Laith Abu Naem, and he is an outstanding player. He shared with PNN that he has been part of the academy since its opening and has been continuing for two years. He has scored 100 goals, aspiring to fulfill the dream of his brother Laith, who loved football.

Coach Fadi mentioned that the academy organized a ceremony at the end of the training day to honor Haitham as an outstanding player. The academy expressed its joy at having him as one of the players.

During the ceremony, Haitham expressed his gratitude to the coaching staff of the academy for their efforts in helping him reach this successful stage. He mentioned feeling supported and expressed his wish to reach professionalism in the future to fulfill his brother's dream and raise the Palestinian flag in international stadiums and tournaments.

The academy opens opportunities for girls despite social obstacles.

Basma Mansi, a coach at the Al-Mughayir Academy, expressed that football has been her passion since childhood. She specifically chose this academy because there are young players who love football and want to increase their knowledge of sports, not just those who come to waste their time. She affirmed that they continue to reach the highest levels in sports.

Mansi stated that her commitment extends beyond obtaining her university degree in sports. She actively participates in various courses and training related to this field, and all her training for the students is scientifically planned.

Despite facing numerous difficulties, especially with girls, due to societal customs and traditions, Mansi perseveres. She mentioned that societal norms dictate that girls should not play football after reaching the age of fourteen. This creates challenges, as she puts in long hours of training for the girls to excel in international football. However, societal restrictions sometimes lead them to quit training and cancel their enrollment.

Coach Mansi explained that she turned to this academy because it has children with a passion and ambition to train professionally in football. She noted parental interest in their children and expressed the hope for gender equality in attention, where parents bring their sons to the field, showing interest in teaching them. This encourages her to give her utmost effort to create a successful professional team.

Mansi added that her family did not object to her love and passion for football and her pursuit of university studies in sports. Despite facing criticism from some people, she set a goal and wants to achieve it despite all obstacles. She aspires to see the youth of Al-Mughayir village reach a high level of professionalism and considers them not just as young, trained players but as successful, accomplished athletes in Palestine's top sports rankings.

This story was produced as part of the Qarib program implemented by the French Media Development Agency (CFI) in partnership and funding from the French Agency for International Cooperation (AFD).



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