Gaza kids' football trip to Ireland a "real success" despite issues with travel permits

Five adults and one child were not able to make the trip as their permits were not issued

Gaza kids' football trip to Ireland a "real success" despite issues with travel permits

Image: Gaza Action Ireland via Facebook

A trip to Ireland by a group of young footballers from Gaza has been hailed a success, despite delays and problems with travel permits.

The group has been welcomed home in Gaza, after spending 10 days travelling around Ireland and playing matches.

The youngsters, from the Al Helal football academy, were aged from 10 to 14 years of age.

They stayed and played in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, as well as in Dublin, Limerick, Kinvara and Wexford, before leaving for home on Monday.

They also met with President Michael D Higgins at Eamon Deacy Park in Galway, where the children played on the pitch at halftime of the Galway United v Dundalk match last Friday.

Gaza Action Ireland (GAI) said the trip almost didn't happen, as Israeli authorities delayed issuing travel permits.

Permits were not issued at all for six of the intended travelling party, including one child.

In a statement marking the end of the trip, GAI said: "Apart from the sad blow this represented for us and them, having just two adults with 14 children who had never before left Gaza, and who spoke very little English, made things very tough."

The group had originally intended to travel to Ireland for a 12-day trip earlier in July, but were forced to reschedule to a shorter visit between July 29th to August 8th.

"The travellers and those left behind decided the trip should go ahead," the GAI said. "And due to the brilliance, kindness and boundless energy of Al Helal chairman Ayed Abu Ramadan and coach Moammed Alrawagh, alongside the voluntary efforts of many people in Ireland, the kids had constant support."

GAI says they will continue working with Al Helal, and are hoping to organise more trips.

The statement adds: "This grassroots project couldn't have happened without widespread support for fundraising, organising and hosting. 

"It's been absolutely brilliant. We couldn’t possibly name them all, but we thank everyone who played, donated, fundraised, fed, and lavished the children with gifts, hospitality and love."