Exchange in Italy

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Sport Under Siege – “un percorso di pace con il cuore nel Pallone”

From November 2 to 27, 2008 two sport delegations of girl basket team and girl football team, come from Palestine (one from Deheishe Camp and one from Gaza Strip), were invited in Italy by Crocevia, to participate to the exchange in a framework of the project “Sport Under Siege – un percorso di pace con il cuore nel Pallone”. The project, funded by Italian Ministry of Foreign Affair and under the patronage of POGAS (Italian Ministry of Sport and youth), expected meetings, conferences and matches between schools, Universities and sport associations; through the sport, the Palestinian girls were invited to have a dialogue with their contemporary in Italy, about the sport in Palestine, about cooperation and peace.

Unfortunately, only one team succeed to arrive in Italy, the girl basket team, from Bethlehem; the second team, (Al Aqsa University football) from Gaza was prevented to come from the Israeli military occupation.

In spite of the pressure from the Italian authority that release the visa to Italy, was impossible to let them out Gaza.

The project started in Milano continued in other Italian cities ( Bergamo, Brescia, Pisa, Reggio Calabria and Roma); has been organized matches of football and basket in the main playgrounds of the cities involved; united to the matches, it has been kept other cultural events, within the campaign against every shape of discrimination.

The team met UISP, Italian Ministry of Sport, schools, Universities, Local Government and sport Associations. Every where they reminded to all the impossibility for the girls football Team to be together in Italy for that project. Every where they played in the name of Al Aqsa University football team.

We can say that it was a way to speak about the situation that the population are living in Gaza under occupation.

Thousands people attended in the meetings and conferences we held in Italy, hundreds of them will be in Palestine next year with the Project “Sport under siege”.

“Sport Under Siege” is a big campaign started on 2003 “, The Project was born from the passion for sport, soccer in particular, of two associations based in Milan, Jalla Onlus and Salah Onlus, then promoted by many no profit associations based in all Italy

We made different travels in Palestine and we decided to do something to support the associations that practice sport in the occupied territories in conditions of clear difficulty.

We visited refugee camps in West Bank and Gaza Strip ( Jerico, Deheishe camp, Al Fawwar Camp, Jenin, Jerusalem, Gaza City, Khan Younis, Jabalia…) to promote the sport between the youth boys and girls.

All the positive responses concerning this initiative, both in Palestine and in Italy, enabled the two leader associations, Jalla and Salah, to increase their efforts to accentuate intervention on sports cooperation.

Today, SPORT UNDER THE SIEGE is an heritage shared by many realities, very different among each other: organized fun club, associations, sports clubs, political collectives, local government, schools and Universities. Each one with it’s own distinctive feature, but all of them ready to give strength to all the projects completed until now.


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Meri Calvelli
Project Coordinator