Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Basketball in Palestine 1930’s – 1992


            Issam Khalidi

In September 1944 Palestine Sports Federation PSF was re-established (first established in 1931). Later, a basketball committee was formed beside the other committees. In June 1945, competitions in basketball started in all regions (Jerusalem, Jaffa, Gaza, Haifa, Galilee and Nablus). In July 1945,the Cairo YMCA visited Palestine and competed with some clubs in Jaffa, Haifa and with the Jerusalem-YMCA. In May 1946, the selected team of Jaffa competed with Barada Club of Damascus. In July 1947 the selected team of Haifa competed with the same selected team of Jaffa.[1]


In August 1947 the Andony (Anthony) Club in Jaffa won the game against Salesian Haifa (Roman Catholic Salesian Congregation of St. John Bosco) and won the championship of Palestine. Among the best teams in Palestine were the Jerusalem YMCA , Salesian in Haifa, Anthony Club in Jaffa, Orthodox Club in Jaffa and Islamic Club Jaffa. The Selesian Club in Haifa competed with the Club of (Rome) and the Salesian School in Rome.[2] However, basketball among Arabs lagged behind Jewish basketball which could reach higher levels due to the experience which was brought by immigrants from developed countries.


West Bank

After 1948, basketball was practiced among schools and club members in cities and refugee camps in Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. In 1949, an unofficial tournament was held between Urdon Club, al-Ahli, al-Faisali and Palestine Selected Team. In 1955, the YMCA in  East Jerusalem formed a basketball team which took part later in the major league when al-Ahli Club won first place, YMCA – second, while al-Urdon came in the third place.[3] In 1966, YMCA in Jerusalem organized its Saiqa (thunderbolt) first tournament (after the opening of its basketball court). In 1967, under the auspices of Prince Hasan it organized and won its second tournament. [4] The YMCA Saiqa continued from 1969 until 1998. The competition was always intensive between YMCA and al-Ittihad al-Riyadi in Nablus.

  In 1975 Rabitat al-Andiya (League) was established which included clubs from Jerusalem and Hebron provinces. In 1980, all clubs from all provinces in the West Bank decided to be included in this league (Rabitat al-Andiya).In 1984, the YMCA basketball team left to Amman and competed with the Orthodox Club there. In 1985, it organized the first championship in basketball where 34 teams took part.  Al-A’mal al-Katoliki (Catholic Labor) won the cup. 

  In 1978, the first tournament for colleges was launched, three major universities (Birzeit, al-Najah and Bethlehem) in the West Bank took part.


Gaza Sector

In 1956 Gaza Sports Club won the championship of the Gaza Sector. The Egyptian administration in Gaza Sector put reasonable efforts for the growth of sports. A new stage in basketball started when in June 10th 1962 the Palestine Basketball Association PBA was established by the al-Majlis al-A’la li-Ria’yat wa as-Shabab (Supreme Council for Youth Care).  The Supreme Council made Dr. Goerge Rishmawi the President of PBA, George Mistkawi secretary, Mustafa Salman treasury, while Yousef al-Hashwa and Hamdi Sharif also became members. Immediately a national basketball team was formed, the majority of the players were from Sector Gaza. Due to the efforts of Dr. George Rishmawi and the outstanding efforts of the national team, it joined the International Basketball Federation in 1964. In Gaza Yousef Hashwa became the first international referee in Palestine.[5]


     The Palestinian team competed in several tournaments such as:  The African Tournament in Casablanca in 1963 where Palestine got  third place among 52 countries;[6]  Arab Tournament in Tripoli in Libya in 1963 – the fourth place; Fourth Pan Arab Games in Egypt in 1964. The team was accompanied by Dr. George Rishmawi who represented Palestine in Mediterranean and European branch of the International Basketball Association IBA, and in Beirut 1962, Cairo 1964, Tunis 1966, and Alexandria 1967.[7]

In 1978, Ribitat al-Andiya was established in Gaza Sector.  In November 1978, the Supreme Council of Youth Care re-established the Palestine Basketball Association. It chose Dr. George Rishmawi as its honorary president. Its headquarters were located in Gaza. Later, it was moved to Damascus and headed by Faruq Othman (Syria), Yousef al-Masri – vice president, Yousef al-Husari – treasury, Najib Suwwan – member. [8]

[1]Difa January 15 1946.   The branch committee of basketball asked the clubs that practiced basketball to pay an annual fee 1 Palestinian pound. The committee decided to conduct tests for the referees that the region committee nominated.

[2]Filastin September 19, 1947.

[3]Al-Ittihad al-Urduni li-Kurat Assala: http://www.jbf.jo/Contents/About_JBFar.aspx

[4]RasimYunis, Al-Haraka al-Riyadiya fi al-Difa al-Gharbiya 1967-87.(Sports Movement in West Bank 1967-87).1992, p.185.

[6]The team at thistournament wascombinedoftheplayers: Abdel Hamid Mas’ud, Samir Mousa, Basem Mousa, Muhammad Dalu, Yousef Kiriazi, Hanna Saba, Yousef al-Masri, Ya’coub Abu al-Khair, Shaker al-Bawwab, Ibrahim al-Ja’fariand George Mazhar. The coach was Ahmad Mifrij.

[8] Khalid Ijjawi, al-Haraka al-Riyadiyya al-Falastiniyya fi al-Shatat, )Palestinian Sports Movement in Diaspora), a-Dar al-Wataniya al-Jadida, Damascus, 2001.

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