Palestinian football team the big winners after Cape tour

Palestine Soccer team visited Bo Kaap before the game on Sunday. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Palestine Soccer team visited Bo Kaap before the game on Sunday. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 19, 2024


Cape Town - Described as “the impossible dream turned possible” the Palestine National Football team’s trip to Cape Town concluded at the Athlone Stadium last night.

This, as the Lions of Canaan beat their hosts 1-0 in the Freedom Cup match in solidarity with the people of Palestine, dubbed “Football 4 Humanity”.

Palestine, who lost their first game against a Western Cape XI 1-0 last week, came up against a South Africa XI invitational team on Sunday coached by two legends of the game, Jomo Sono and Boebie Solomons.

The Freedom Cup match was initiated by Sports Stepping Stones (SSS) in partnership with the SA Football Association Cape Town (Safa CT).

President Cyril Ramaphosa and several dignitaries were in attendance at last week’s match.

The crowd yesterday was much smaller, but Cape Town still received praise for its love shown toward their Palestinian guests.

Speaking at a media briefing on Monday, Palestinian Football Association president, Jibril Rajoub, said the initiative was the most inventive concept in the history of sport in his nation.

“This is the legacy of Mandela and the solidarity in this moment, we are very grateful,” Rajoub said.

Since their arrival, the team has been warmly received by supporters from various Cape Town communities.

“We ‘won’ the two games when we landed here. We met the great natural and humanitarian feeling from your people,” Rajoub said.

The Palestinian team was out and about throughout last week as they travelled to several tourist sites including the Bo-Kaap and Table Mountain.

“Here in Cape Town, not far from Robben Island, this is a clear-cut message to the Palestinian people that you are not alone,” Rajoub said.

Rajoub also applauded everyone who supported the Palestinians’ bid for freedom.

Safa president Danny Jordaan confirmed that future solidarity games were being discussed.

“It is an ongoing discussion and we will continue the discussion and also look at options in the future,” Jordaan said.

The crowd were also entertained by an exhibition match between the Western Cape Legends versus a media team.

Deputy Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nocawe Mafu, said: “It was a moment for us to demonstrate what South Africa stands for.

“I hope the team has felt the love despite everything that is happening at home.”

Boebie Cassiem, who pioneer behind SSS, said that getting the Palestinian team back on African soil won’t be a dream.

“Even bringing the national team or taking teams, I don't think it will be impossible. Whatever SSS does, we do it hand in hand with Safa CT,” he said.