A step in the right direction

by Neil Sherwin

In a breakthrough for both peace relations and football, women from Palestine and Jordan met in a friendly match on Monday evening.

The game, Palestine’s first on home turf, ended in a 2-2 draw in front of a capacity crowd at the Faisal Al-Husseini Stadium which can accomodate 12,000 supporters.

Amongst the keen onlookers were caretaker Palestine Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the chairman of the Palestinian football federation Jibreel Rajoub, senior Fatah and PLO officials, and representatives of other Palestinian factions.

Women travelled from throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem to the stadium which is located between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

The visitors took a one goal lead before Palestine responded with two efforts of their, however Jordan had the final say in proceedings with an equaliser.

The Jordan team was made up of mainly veterans and younger players as others had committments playing at the 3rd Asian indoor Games in Vietnam.

The national team are 51st in the FIFA women’s ranking, and are the highest ranked Arab team.

Women’s football is really beginning to take off in Palestine following the establishment of the first all women team in 2003.

“Our team and league are just starting off and they need a couple of years to be ready. However, the match will help boost women’s football and sports in the country,” said Palestine coach Hani Abu Leil.

The team participated in a tournament for the first in 2004, before also taking part in the West Asia Championships held in Jordan in 2005 and the Arab Championships in Egypt in 2006.

The Faisal Al-Husseini Stadium also hosted the first game between the mens teams of Palestine and Jordan in October of last year, a contest attended by FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

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