This is my story that is living proof on how nothing is impossible in the world of football and no obstacle stands in the way of dreams for fans of this game.
My football journey began when I decided to start playing with my brothers football at home as well as in the neighborhood I live in. I started to also play football in my school team and in the School Football Leagues (tournaments between schools across Palestine). Me and my fellow teammates from my school team participated in the School Football League in 2018 and we had won first place. This accomplishment that came from many hours of training was the beginning of my deep passion and pursuit in making football my career. I decided to join the Sports for Life football team when my friend invited me to join – this was a strong driving force in developing and fine-tuning my skills.
After some trainings with the Sports for Life team, I developed many life skills and technical skills in football in a short period of time. My personality changed, I became more confident and I began to enjoy working in a team. I became committed and devoted to the training sessions with the Sports for Life team and I also found myself practicing new skills at home by watching videos and replicating the moves of professional players. I really enjoyed watching competitive football matches for international football teams such as Real Madrid against the various teams in the league – this helped me watch the skills of the best players.
In my football journey, I have faced many difficulties because of society’s negative view on girls playing football. Many looked down upon me playing football and tried to convince me to quit but I was able to prove them wrong by showcasing my skills as a great football player and participating alongside my Sports for Life team in the 11th Women’s League. I was positioned as a striker and a right-back for the team, and scored the first goal followed by many other goals during the tournament. I have been labeled the MVP of the Sports for Life team and have consistently excelled in my play.
For October of 2022, me and my fellow teammates at Sports for Life were selected to participate in representing Palestine in the Street Child World Cup in Qatar. I know this will be one of the most memorable experiences and accomplishments of mine to come yet. Palestine Sports for Life has opened this opportunity for me to showcase my skills to an international platform and I am beyond thrilled.
Football for me is not only a game, but it is my way of expressing myself to the world and to tell my story through it. I will work hard now and in the future to reach what I aspire to be since I was a child, and that is to be a well-known football player at a local and international level and to join the international women’s team.
Name: Aya Mazen Habayeb
Age: 18 years old
This is my story that is living proof on how nothing is impossible in the world of football and no obstacle stands in the way of dreams for fans of this game. In my football journey, I have faced many difficulties because of society’s negative view on girls playing football. This did not affect me or hold me back however, I continue to play football and work to be a well-known player in Palestine and across the world.
I’ve been playing football for about a year now and have realized how football changed me for the better. It transformed my personality into being a more confident person and in standing up for what I believe in. Football made me take responsibility for my actions and life plans. Through our football trainings with coach Yumon Masri, life skills are emphasized and focused on. Skills like time-management, teamwork, and effective communication are constantly discussed and covered during each of our football sessions.
Reflecting on this year of playing football, I clearly see how I developed into a better player and person. My football skills became better and I have made many new friends who are my teammates.
I hope to become a professional football player like my coach, Yumon Masri, whom I thank with all my heart for her support and constant mentorship. This year, I am super excited to have the opportunity to play football at an international level at the Street Child United World Cup. It will be the first time Palestine will be represented in the tournaments. I will be a member within the Sports for Life team alongside my fellow teammates, who will participate in the matches, vocalize the concerns of Palestinian youths, and raise the flag of Palestine.
Name: Jana Ibrahim Abu Haish
Age: 13 years old
Reflecting on this year of playing football, I clearly see how I developed into a better player and person. My football skills became better, just from a year of training, and I have made many new friends who are my teammates. Football transformed my personality into being a more confident person and in standing up for what I believe in.
I started playing football a year ago. This year, I began playing with the Sport for Life team. Being a member of the Sports for Life team has made this the most memorable and happy year for me. I’ve made new friends and learned about the beauty in collectively playing the game of football.
Football has changed my life 180 degrees!
Without a doubt, football has transformed and opened new life ambitions for me. These new life goals and life changes through football is thanks to my amazing coach Yumon Masri. She is my role model and inspiration. Her teaching style is one of a kind since she includes both life skills training and ball training. Her life skills training sessions has helped guide me in paving new purposes in my life – and for that, I am forever grateful. I am excited to continue playing football alongside my friends and teammates within the Sports for Life team since it has been a place of development, acceptance, and positively.
I also give my thanks and massive credit for Palestine Sports for Life for their continued support for the Sports for Life football training program and team.
Name: Amna Shukri Ahmad Akasha
Age: 13 years old
Football changed my life 180 degrees and I am excited to continue playing football alongside my friends and teammates. Without a doubt, it has transformed and opened new life ambitions for me. These life changes through football and new passions have been thanks to my mentor and amazing coach Yumon Masri.
I started playing football since 1st grade. I began playing on my own within the neighborhood streets. Years later, I entered Sports for Life football team and that was when I took the game of football seriously and had progressed in my game play.
I did face criticism since I am a girl, many people questioned me on why I play football and I have been told I will not have a career or future in playing football. I did not listen to these intended comments to discourage me because I recognize how football is my passion and how amazing I feel while playing it. My number one supporter has been my family, and throughout the 5 years of playing football with the Sports for Life team, my coach and teammates have consistently supported me.
I am aiming to be a well-known and reputable football player, and my role model has been my football coach Yumon Masri. I am so grateful for her in being my mentor and coach, and for the NGO Palestine Sports for Life for developing a football team and training sessions to develop female football players.
I did face criticism since I am a girl, many people questioned me on why I play football and I have been told I will not have a career or future in playing football. I did not listen to these intended comments to discourage me because I recognize how football is my passion and how amazing I feel while playing it.
Using sports to unite and develop the coming generation.
Palestine Sports for Life (PS4L) bi-weekly holds safe spaces for children and youth to play sports. Within the sessions, PS4L professional life skills and sport trainers teach youth about human rights, health, and various sustainable development goals. On April 6th, PS4L Coach Yumon Masri directed a ‘Football and Child Right’ session for her students in Tulkarem (a city in Palestine). Within the session, Coach Yumon discussed the importance of attaining child rights in Palestine and highlighted the rights of all children as an informative session. The students discussed openly on what they define as child rights and formed a list of “Child Rights” which included safe upbringing, freedom of expression, and protection from violence. It was a needed session that connected sports to understanding all aspects of child rights. Throughout the session, Coach Yumon taught various life skills such as teamwork and interpersonal skills as a continued effort to develop their public speaking skills and confidence.
Among the students in the session were fellow ‘Sports for Life’ girl’s team players. Supported by The National Bank in Palestine, PS4L girl’s team will participate in the Street Child World Cup, which will be held in Qatar, Doha, in 2022. Sports for Life team will represent Palestine for the first time alongside 12 other international teams coming from India, Brazil, Bangladesh, Darfur, Bolivia, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Zimbabwe, and the United States. This tournament will highlight the importance of youth education, and provide a global platform for youths to discuss issues they face while also enjoying the game of football. This is the first time the State of Palestine has been selected to participate in such a notable and change-driven event.
On April 6th, Palestine Sports for Life (PS4L) conducted a session titled 'Football and Child Rights' where sports was used to educate on child rights and the sustainable development goals. Youths raised their white cards to support the great movement sports can make in communities.