Palestinian children en route to Nenagh for ‘Gaza Kids to Ireland’ football visit

Palestinian children en route to Nenagh for ‘Gaza Kids to Ireland’ football visit

CHILDREN from the Al-Helal club in the besieged Gaza strip will arrive in Dublin today [Friday] to begin a 10-day visit of fun and football.

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

“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,” Gaza Action Ireland (GAI) coordinator Zoë Lawlor said.

“This visit to Ireland will provide a wonderful chance for them to meet other children, experience a new culture and to tell their stories,” she added.

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. (See this national newspaper coverage from the time.)

Hogan and Lawlor have led the GAI team that organised ‘Gaza Kids to Ireland’, and will be at the airport to greet the children – 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.

Sadly, delays in getting permission from Israeli officials to leave the territory have caused the cancellation and postponement of some of the children’s planned events. A family fun day at Ballybrack FC in south county Dublin, originally scheduled for Sunday, July 17th, has happily been rescheduled for this Sunday, July 31st, 11am to 4pm. Details of further events around the country over the next 10 days will be available through Gaza Action Ireland on Facebook.

“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.

Depending on ongoing issues with permits, up to 15 children from Gaza will be joined in Ireland by at least 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

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