Palestine National Team for Amputees Hopes to Qualify for World Cup – PHOTO ESSAY

Palestinian National Soccer Team of Amputees. (Photo: Mahmoud Nasser, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Mahmoud Nasser

Two weeks ago, the Palestinian National Football Team for Amputees officially commenced, on December 2, their training sessions under the supervision of the Red Cross in the Palestine Stadium in Gaza. The team aims to participate in the Asian qualification round in Turkey in order to, they hope, qualify for the Amputee Football World Cup in 2022. 

Aside from their desire to represent Palestine internationally and to participate in the World Cup, these athletes also offer a lesson of humanity and resistance. 

Here is yet another example of how life always triumphs over all obstacles in besieged Gaza. This is yet another story of the resilience of the human spirit.

The Gaza athletes lost their limbs under different circumstances: some as a result of previous Israeli wars on the Strip, others due to accidents, and some as a result of an illness. However, these players carry on with life, as if little had changed. Somehow, their misfortune becomes yet another challenge to be overcome.

This is just another ordinary football practice. The players warm up around the field; their coach continually yells instructions at them, and they hardly think of themselves as ‘disabled’. If they are aware of their disability, it is merely to try a little bit harder, to move a little bit faster, and to give the game all of the love and the energy it requires.

But when you get closer to these athletes, you notice something different about them. It is rational to imagine that, by losing a limb, they have also lost a part of themselves. But when you get to know them, you realize that this is not the case at all. Looking into their eyes and observing the way they conduct themselves, you seem to forget that these young men are in any way disabled. 

Indeed, these athletes teach life without even uttering a single word. They joke, laugh, practice their special skills and push hard without losing their smile.

The Palestinian National Football Team for Amputees awaits direction from the coach during practice. (Nuseirat Refugee Camp, Gaza, December 15, 2021)
Players undergo their routine stretching before a practice session. (Nuseirat, Gaza, December 15, 2021)
The team goalkeeper joins the rest of the team for warm-up. (Nuseirat, Gaza, December 15, 2021)
One of the players during an intense cardio session. (Nuseirat, Gaza, December 15, 2021)
Moaath (right) alongside his teammate during the cardio training. (Nuseirat, Gaza, December 15, 2021)
Players from the Palestinian National Team practice passing accuracy during training drills. (Nuseirat, Gaza, December 15, 2021)
Players, divided into two groups, undergo mobility work in order to avoid abdominal injuries. (Nuseirat, Gaza, December 15, 2021)
Moaath, the player in blue, who is considered one of the best players on the team, crosses the ball during the scrimmage. (Nuseirat, Gaza, December 15, 2021)
Moaath scores the first goal in the practice session. (Nuseirat, Gaza, December 15, 2021)
The shadow of one of the players is cast on the field. (Nuseirat, Gaza, December 15, 2021)

(All Photos: Mahmoud Nasser, The Palestine Chronicle)

- Mahmoud Nasser is a Gaza-based photographer. After spending 13 years outside his country, he decided to come back to photograph Gaza's loss of life, suffering, and the consequences of war, but also the human stories and the love for life. He can be contacted at mahmoud-bn@hotmail.com.
(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
Our Vision For Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out