Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Club of Shabab Al-Arab in Haifa 1934 - 1948

    Nadi Shabab Al-Arab (The Club of Arab Youth) was established in September 1934 by the support of the Arab Palestine Youth Congress which in general made a great contribution to sports and scout movements.[i] In September 1934, in this regard Difa' published this news:

   “Everyone remembers that in Haifa there was a club known as a Salisi (Salesian), it included an elite of Haifa’s intellectual young men. Something happened that touched the national dignity during that day when this club was receiving the Armor of the Youth Congress. The members of this club became upset. So they decided to separate themselves from the Salesian club,  and found a new club they named Shabab al Arab (The Arab Youth). The national movement in Haifa welcomed this new club and received it with pleasure. In order to sustain the links between the youth in Palestine, the new club requested to be under the auspices of the Youth Congress. [ii]

Shabab al-Arab participated in the Haifa League which was organized by the Jewish-dominated Palestine Football Association. The Arab Tirsana Club and Islamic Sports Club took part in this league too. Shabab al-Arab was one of the best Arab teams in Palestine prior to 1948. Its dynamo, Jabra Az-Zarqa was one of the greatest among British, Jewish and Arab football players. After the Nakba, he left to Syria where he played with the Syrian Army team there, awarding it with a plenty of winnings.[iii]

Under a title Shebab El-Arab Net Ten Against Haifa Maccabi, Palestine Post brought this news:

Shebab El Arab easily collected the full points in their Palestine League, Haifa Division game with Haifa Maccabi, scoring ten goals without any reply from Maccabi. Zaher [Subhi] opened the scoring in the first minute of the game and after 15 minutes play the Shabab stormed the Maccabi goal. Zarka [Jabra] II (2), Dardas I and Nahas adding four additional goals, for an interval score of five to nil. In the second half, Maccabi made a few unsuccessful sallies on the Shabab goal, but the Shabab soon took over control of the game again and keeping up a steady bombardment on the Maccabi citadel, increased their lead to ten to nil before the end. [iv]

Immediately, it became a member of the Arab Sports Federation PSF after its re-establishment in 1944. In the championship of 1946-1947 which was organized by PSF, thirteen teams took part, the final match was between Shabab al-Arab and Islamic Club of Jaffa in June 28th 1947. The former won the Cup of Al-Bank Al-Arabi by 5 goals  to one.

[i] Salisi Club was belonging to the Salesian schools founded by the Salesian Fathers, a Catholic Convent founded by St. John Bosco in Turin in Italy in 1840.

The Arab Palestinian Youth Congress (Mu’tamar al-Shabab al-‘Arabi al-Filastini) was established in Jerusalem in 1931. It was active in youth, scouts, sports and political activities, and was famous for its nationalistic trends. It had its first conference in 1932, the second in 1935. See ‘Isaal- Sifri. Filastin al-‘Arabiyya bayn al-Intidab wal-Sahyuniyya [Arab Palestine between the Mandate and Zionism] (Jaffa: Maktabat Filastinal-Jadida, 1937), 194–201.

[ii] Difa, 25 September 1934

In an interview with Khalid Ijjawi (Tarikh al-Haraka al-Riyadiyya al Falastiniyya fi al-Shatat, Damascus, 2001), Jabra Az-Zarqa explained the reason behind this separation: "after one of its winnings, the leader of the team asked the players to shake hands first with the Italian consul and then with Ya'coub al-Ghusein - president of the Youth Conference."  In other words, they felt that Salisi Club was attached  more to the Catholic convent and to Italy than to Palestine.

[iii] Palestine Football Association was established in 1928. Three years later, in 1931, the Arab Palestine Sports Federation was established. It functioned until late 1930's, then re-established in 1944.

[iv] Palestine Post, 14 January 1942

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