The 2015 AFC Asian Cup witnessed an historical moment for the Palestinian people when the Palestinian National football team qualified for the very first time in the Asia cup that was held in Australia from the 9th – 31st of January. The groups participation in the tournament contributed to the enhancement of our team’s managerial and technical capabilities in order to meet challenges that are beyond the national and regional scope.
The participation of the Palestine National Team in the 2015 Asia Cup also holds a strong political significance due to the important political and economic role Australia plays in the international arena.
The involvement of the Palestine National team in the tournament attracted wide attention, mainly by the Palestinian community, civil society organizations and the Australian media at large, which focused in an unprecedented way, on the participation of the Palestine team shedding a light on the team members personal stories and journeys that qualified them to take part in such an important international tournament, in spite of the challenges faced daily as a result of the Israeli Occupation and its restrictive policies on sport in Palestine.
The visit of the National football team during the Asia Cup has contributed significantly in the enhancement of the General Delegation of Palestine’s diplomatic efforts sending a clear message to all segments of the Australian community with regards to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and their right to self- determination and the building of the Palestine State institution.
In a wedding like atmosphere with national folklore songs and traditional Palestinian Dabkka dancing, Ambassador of the State of Palestine H.E. Mr. Izzat Abdulhadi, together with a large number of community members and leaders, welcomed the team to Sydney, on 12.01.2015.
Prior to the arrival of our National team to Australia, the General Delegation of Palestine had provided the team with all the necessary administrative and logistical assistance, which included finding the team the finest training sites, booking hotels and organising transportation in order to facilitate the team’s stay in Australia and their participation in the Asia Cup.
Addtionally, The General Delegation of Palestine was the link between the Palestinian Football Federation and all official bodies and non-official organizations of the Asian Cup in Australia. In spite of its limited resources, the General Delegation of Palestine managed to contribute significantly to the successful visit of our team to Australia, impressing all stakeholders including the Palestinian Football Association, and Major General Jibril Rajoub who accompanied the team to Australia.
H. E. Mr Izzat Abdulhadi, Ambassador of the State of Palestine and head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific (GDOP) participated in the official opening of the tournament, and in arranging and attending all official and informal meetings related to the Asia Cup and the Palestinian teams participation. The GDOP staff and volunteers participated in many activities organized by the Palestinian community to celebrate the team and attend most of their games.
In the same context, the General Delegation of Palestine organized a reception for the team in Canberra on 17.01.2015 at the Delegation of Palestine headquarters that was also attended by the Arab Ambassadors in Canberra and, Major General Jibril Rajoub.
To farewell the Palestinian National Football team, a public dinner was organised by the GDOP on the 20.01.2015. The dinner saw more than two hundred people attend, representing the Palestinian community in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and in the presence of Major General Jibril Rajoub. During the formal dinner, H. E. Mr Izzat Abdulhadi, Ambassador of the State of Palestine delivered a speech in which he praised the performance of the Palestinian team pointing out that regardless of the results qualifying in the international tournament and taking part in the Asia cup was in itself a great success and achievement that made all Palestinians around the world and in Australia very proud.
He also thanked the Palestinian community for their outstanding efforts, in welcoming and cheering the team, and raising the morale of the team and Palestine.
Following the Participation of the Palestinian team, H. E. Mr Izzat Abdulhadi, Ambassador of the State of Palestine called upon the Australian government to recognize the state of Palestine.
Major General Jibril Rajoub, also delivered a speech on this occasion, and praised the performance of the Palestinian team while taking the opportunity to address the obstacles faced by the team as a result of the Israeli Occupation. He also thanked the Palestinian community and the Embassy of Palestine in Australia for the great support they demonstrated to the national team during their stay in Australia. He expressed a few practical suggestions to institutionalize this support through the creation of a sports club for Palestinian- Australians.
The Palestinian community participated enthusiastically in welcoming and receiving the team in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra and attended all the matches played by the team carrying Palestinian flags and echoing the Palestinian National anthem .
Listening to the PalestinianNational Anthem at the beginning of each game was a strong incentive for the Palestinian community to step up their cheering.