Goals for Gaza: Olympia Ramadan soccer tournament and community Iftar meal

The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice

Building community and making room for joy

For eleven years, the Rachel Corrie Gaza Sport Initiative has conducted football tournaments for juniors, men and athletes with disabilities. Thousands of spectators and hundreds of competing athletes participate each year. The initiative is unique in its ability to transcend factional identities, age, gender, and physical abilities to unite Palestinians together through sports for enjoyment, play, normality, and community building. The key organizer for the Ramadan tournaments is Kareem Nasrallah, son of the Nasrallah family whose home Rachel Corrie was defending when she was killed by an Israeli military bulldozer in 2003.

This year’s theme is the The Right of Return, in honor of the Great March of Return protests that captivated the world’s attention this spring. Participating teams are named for towns and villages of historical Palestine as a point of convergence between Rachel Corrie as a human rights defender and the Gaza refugees’ legacy of resisting injustice.

Fans experienced an inspiring yet sobering moment during the opening ceremony for the Young Men’s Tournament. Palestinian cyclist Alaa al-Dali, who lost his right leg after he was shot by an Israeli sniper while protesting near the Gaza border fence on March 30, kicked the opening soccer ball while supporting himself on crutches.

Even as the people of Gaza attempt to recover from devastating wounds suffered during May demonstrations for the Right of Return, efforts to maintain ordinary life activities continue.

June 9th fundraiser—sharing sport and food

The Olympia Ramadan Soccer Tournament Fundraiser & Community Iftar Meal will take place on Saturday, June 9th, 2018 from 3 pm-10 pm at Chinook Middle School (Fields 9 & 10) and the Masjid al-Nur-Islamic Center of Olympia to benefit the Rachel Corrie Gaza Sport Initiative. The Community Iftar Meal, held after the tournament, is an opportunity for community members of the South Sound to meet and build relationships with their Muslim neighbors by breaking fast together for Ramadan.

A significant economic impact, too

“The Initiative has grown far beyond any of our initial expectations. In addition to the joy and healing it provides, its economic impact in Gaza is impressive. The unemployment rate in Gaza has hovered around 43% and businesses struggle to operate with the ongoing siege. Our organizers have created employment opportunities for persons with a wide range of skills, such as referees, accountants, videographers and photographers, and youth assistants, and they purchase materials and supplies, supporting vendors and businesses. We hope Olympians will join us for a day of fun, sports and community building, and most importantly, solidarity with Palestinians in this time of extreme uncertainty,” said Whitney Faulkner, Executive Director of RCF.

The Gaza Sport Initiative has an approximate budget of $26,000 for 2018 and RCF is aiming to raise at least $5,000 locally through tournament registrations, generous donations, and community support. They are also hosting a free fundraising night at Three Magnets Brewing Co on Saturday, June 2, 2018 at 4 pm.

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