Al Jazeera World

Girls FC

We follow the Palestinian girls facing challenges on and off the pitch as they pursue their passion for football.

On February 10, 2011, an estimated 8,000 spectators filled the Feisal al-Husseini Stadium in the West Bank to witness the opening match of the Palestine Women’s National Football League.

“There is a general assumption that Palestinian and Arab women belong in the kitchen; that our only role is to cook and take care of our husbands. We defied this and proved that we can play football as well. It is our way to let off steam.

– Marian Bandak, a member of the Palestinian Women’s National Football League

The league supports six teams.

Girls FC follows young Palestinian girls who aspire to join the league and even play for the Palestine national women’s football team.

“I played football in the neighbourhood. I would take the ball and play with the local boys,” recounts Honey Thaljieh, a member of the Women’s Football Committee at the Palestinian Football Association.

“That I was a girl playing with boys was of no concern to me. I was young. I wanted to play all the time.”

But they face many challenges. The pitch is often inaccessible thanks to a ring of Israeli checkpoints. And girls from Gaza cannot train with their counterparts in the West Bank.

Other challenges are found even closer to home – the conservative nature of Palestinian society still considers women’s football something of an aberration.

And then of course there are school exams.

“I remember it was hard when we started. People refused to see girls wearing shorts and playing men’s sport. They criticised us for wearing shorts. The guys would attend the matches just to watch the girls playing in shorts,” recalls Klodi Salami. “But now people accept it more. Even young girls are showing an interest in football.”

Girls FC follows Muslim and Christian Palestinian girls who are determined to pursue their passion for football in a male-dominated field and to fulfill their dreams of one day playing for Palestine.

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