Friday, July 25, 2014

Yacoub al-Ansari …. An Athlete, Coach, Referee and Activist.

    Born in 1937 in Jerusalem, in 1957, he joined Nadi al-Muwazzafin (Employees Club) in Jerusalem where he became its secretary for a period of 18 years. He formed a football team with his colleagues Nadi Khouri, Faez Abdel A’al, Mahmoud Qattan, Adel Sharaf and Samir Sharaf. He was a member of the team who played against the Algerian Liberation Army’s team in the 1950’s. Al-Ansari was a teacher of physical education and a football coach; he trained teams in and around Jerusalem, such as al-Mowazzafin, Silwan, Abu Deis and Wadi Qaddom. At the same time he was a first class referee in football.


  Al-Ansari was one of the founders of the League of Referees in the West Bank in 1975. In his book The Clubs League: How, When Was Established?! [Rabitat al-Andiya, Kaifa, Mata Ta’assasat], he stated:


In September 25th 1975 we the referees Muhammad al-Muhder, Ya’qub al-Ansari, Ahmad al-Naji, George Qassis, Odeh Bishara, Muhammed Abdel Bari, Muhammed al-Samhuri, Nadi Khouri reviewed the issues of refereeing, we found that the lack of a league is causing problems to us, so we decided to found a league. At that meeting we formed the league of referees.


At the same time in 1975, Al-Ansari took part in founding Rabitat al-Andiya (League of Clubs) in the south provinces of the West Bank (Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron). Al-Ansari was a member of its preparatory committee and he represented Jerusalem’s clubs. In 1980, Rabitat al-Andiya included all clubs from all regions in the West Bank. It functioned as a ministry of sports at the time when the West Bank suffered from the lack of government institutions. Because of the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, Rabitat al-Andiya was dissolved in 1993. Many who lived during the seventies and eighties consider the condition of sports during this period Riyadat al-Zaman al-Jamil (Sports of the Good Time) .


   During my visit to Palestine in December 2011, I met Yacoub al-Ansari in Ramallah in a sports shop owned by the well-known sports activist, teacher and coach Nadi Khouri. We talked for about two hours. We agreed that he will inform me about his book (History of Sports in Palestine) which he has been preparing  for three decades . Unfortunately, al-Ansari died a few months later in Jerusalem in May 2012. He was 75. When I met him he looked great and was in a good shape. His death was a shock for everyone. Few months later, in September, about 20 clubs and foundations took part in the memorial service of the late al-Ansari.


   Later, I contacted one of his relatives to know about the future of his book, and I was told that the book is in its final stages; the plan is to publish it with the Institute for Palestine Studies, for it contains valuable historical information in addition to rare photographs.




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