Peter Lazenby speaks to players from two British women’s football teams who completed a tour of Palestine in late October
The Easton Cowgirls team, based in Bristol, and the the Republica Internationale team, Leeds-based, spent a few days with a wide variety of women from across the West Bank as they witnessed first-hand the daily realities for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
While both teams play regular league football, they are heavily involved in fundraising activities, community initiatives and politics.
Claire Blue of Republica says: “The trip aimed to build solidarity with the women of Palestine and for the UK teams to get a better understanding of life under occupation.”
The two teams’ joint slogan is “Freedom Through Football,” a message they wrote on Israel’s separation wall, along with the words “We will share your story.”
Midfielder Sarah said: “They had a number of players from the women’s national team and they were shit hot. But it was never going to be about winning.
“What struck me most was chatting with one of players after, she explained that she had been inspired to take up football seriously in 2001 when her cousin, who she first played football with as a child, was shot dead in his house by Israeli soldiers.”
The team’s contacts took them on visits to projects in the Hebron area, among them a women’s co-operative that employs 120 women allowing them an income by selling traditional embroidery and needlework.
They also visited projects in the South Hebron hills area, where the ever increasing number of illegal Israeli settlements threaten the very existence of the villages struggling to maintain their traditional subsistence farming way of life.