Gaza kids football team back in Tipperary on Saturday

CHILDREN from the Al-Helal club in the besieged Gaza strip are in Ireland and enjoying a 10-day visit of fun and football.

The footballers, aged from 10 to 14 years old, are staying and playing in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, as well as in Maynooth, Dublin, Limerick, Kinvara and Wexford over the coming days.

Saturday, August 6th: football tournament v Nenagh AFC & Nenagh Celtic, 12 noon

“We couldn’t be more delighted to have these lovely children finally here to see us,” Gaza Action Ireland (GAI) coordinator Zoë Lawlor said.

“The situation for Palestinians in Gaza trying to play sports, living as they do under siege, is extremely difficult. The children are hampered by lack of facilities, equipment, places to play and restrictions on their movement. This visit to Ireland will provide a wonderful chance for them to meet other children, experience a new culture and to tell their stories — we have a lot to learn from them,” she added.

Palestinian children en route to Nenagh for ‘Gaza Kids to Ireland’ football visitThe following public events are scheduled for the children:

Saturday, July 30th: Football on Sandymount Strand, Dublin, at 4pm, followed by a barbeque at a nearby home

Sunday, July 31th: Family Fun Day, Ballybrack FC, south county Dublin, 11am to 4pm

Monday, August 1st: welcome party in Nenagh, Banba Square, 6pm

Tuesday, August 2nd: visit to Wexford, including football with Wexford Youths (Ferrycarrig pitch, c12.30pm) and greeting from local officials and the Wexford Council of Trade Unions

Wednesday, August 3rd: activities in Tipperary, including visit to Cloughjordan eco-village (c1.30pm) and hurling lessons!

Thursday, August 4th: at the Kinvara, Co Galway, pitch, Killina, activities from 4.30pm, with a match against Kinvara United at 7pmhttps://www.facebook.com/events/763463927090717/

Friday, August 5th: children will be guests at Galway Utd v Dundalk football match, Eamon Deacy Park, Galway, 7.45pm kickoff, with the kids forming a guard of honour before the match and playing on the pitch at halftime

Saturday, August 6th: football tournament v Nenagh AFC & Nenagh Celtic, 12 noon

Sunday, August 7th: playing at the People’s Park in Limerick against a Limerick selection,2.30-4.30pm https://www.facebook.com/events/1719187098331524/

[NOTE, not for publication: Because the visit was delayed and had to be reorganised, events are being added and adjusted all the time. Please contact Gaza Action Ireland spokespeople to confirm details:
Zoë Lawlor, 087 950 4397; Mags O’Brien 087 659 4443;  Harry Browne 087 764 8065]

The long effort of fundraising and red tape to bring the children to Ireland was launched by former Ireland manager Brian Kerr in 2014, along with former rugby international Trevor Hogan. (Seethis national newspaper coverage from the time.)

Hogan and Lawlor have led the GAI team that organised ‘Gaza Kids to Ireland’ – having first met many of them on a visit to Gaza in 2013. Al-Helal’s clubhouse and facilities in northern Gaza were damaged by Israeli bombing in 2012 and again in 2014.

“As well as giving the kids a much needed break from stress and conflict, it is a great opportunity for the people of Ireland to participate and support them,” Lawlor said.

There are 14 children visiting from Gaza, joined in Ireland by two of their adult coaches and carers.

The population of Gaza, now approaching two million people, lives under an illegal blockade imposed by Israel, and these children have already lived through three wars on their territory. Donations to aid the visit can be made at http://gazaactionireland.weebly.com/donate.html

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