Amid their daily struggles, the proud Palestinian people willingly grasp any fleeting moment of joy with open arms – which explains why thousands poured onto the streets of the West Bank to spontaneously celebrate Palestine’s footballing success over the Philippines on Friday night.
The 1-0 win, in the final of football’s AFC Challenge Cup, guarantees Palestine’s appearance in next year’s Asian Cup finals in Australia and secured a first international trophy in the history of the Palestinian Football Association, which was established in 1928.
If this team of overachievers will, inevitably, travel to the southern hemisphere more in hope than expectation, their victory will live long in the memories of many. And, even if the transformative nature of sport is often severely overstated, it is hard to disagree with coach Jamal Mahmoud’s assertion that “this is very important.”
It is a potentially game-changing moment because this win will unite Palestinians in victory, it will certainly shed light on the intolerable roadblocks often placed in the way of Palestinian athletes by Israel and, more importantly, it will put a smile on thousands of faces.
Published: May 31, 2014 04:00 AM