Sunday, July 25, 2021

Volleyball in Palestine


    In 1931, Joseph Yekutieli – head of the Maccabi Organization - established the Federation of the Amateur Sports Clubs of Palestine FASCP which became member of the International Volleyball Federation in 1940’s. Arabs were not members of this federation.


  After the re-establishment of the Arab Palestine Sports Federation in 1944, sports in Palestine were divided into regional and branch committees - for different sports. Volleyball was included with basketball in one branch committee. [1]


   In 1962 Palestine Sports Federation – Committee of Football was established in Sector Gaza. Later, Palestine Volleyball Federation was founded. Gaza Sector witnessed a reasonable sports growth during the period 1950s until 1967. To gain a membership in FIFA, Palestine required to have at least five federations members in respective international federations. In 1965, it applied to join the International Volleyball Association; however, its application was rejected under the pretext that Gaza Sector has no status of a state. In 1966, Palestine took part in the Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO).[2]


     In 1964, the PLO was founded. In 1968, a decision was made by the PLO to form the Palestine Supreme Council for Youth Care; the PLO member Ibrahim Sukkar signed this decree. Farook al-Qadoumi (member of the executive committee of PLO) assigned Ibrahim al-Zard for secretary of the committee.  In 1969, few branch committees were established in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. After 1970, the headquarters of this committee was moved from Amman to Lebanon.  A new supreme council was formed from qualified Palestinian athletic leaders in Lebanon.  The council started to remove the impacts of the war; new clubs were founded in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Athletic and scouts’ activities started to rise.

   The first national volleyball team was formed in 1973 in Lebanon, it took part in the Arab School Tournament in Lebanon in 1973, and in the Pan Arab School Games in Lebanon in 1973. It represented Palestine in flagship team in few Arab and regional tournaments, championships, and games. Other (Palestinian) players took part from Kuwait, Syria and Iraq. Later Palestine Volleyball Association was founded in the 1975 in Kuwait. It joined the Arab Volleyball Association in 1980.  The Palestinian national team included players from Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Kuwait.


  Among volleyball activists in Lebanon, Kamel Dghaim, a member of the 1974-1982 volleyball federation, a Palestinian volleyball player, and an official of physical education at the Siblin Center trained and played in Palestinian clubs. Ghaleb Al-Saleh, served as secretary of the volleyball federation 1974-1982 and coached the Palestinian volleyball national team. At that time a women team participated in Arab and regional championships and festivals.[3]


       In the West Bank, in July 1969, the YMCA in Jerusalem opened the first lighted stadium where games in volleyball, basketball and handball were held. Sports clubs in the West Bank began organizing a tournament called Sa’iqa (lightning strike). The first tournament in volleyball was organized by the East Jerusalem - YMCA in 1969 where the following teams took part: YMCA, Sour Baher, Ibrahimiyya College, De La Salle Bethlehem, Jalazoun Ramallah, Eibal Nablus, Beit Jala.[4]  In 1971 six teams took part in the second Sa’iqa where the Jalazzon team won over YMCA. This Sa’iqa continued until 1976. YMCA, Jalazzon, Balata and Eizariyya competed to win this tournament. [5]


In 1975, Rabitat al-Andiyya League of Sports Clubs in the West Bank was founded. Later, in 1980 other Rabita was founded in Gaza Sector. This Rabita began functioning as a Ministry of Sports. It took different responsibilities and duties.  One of its main responsibilities was the mobilization of all efforts for the advancement of sports and welfare of young men.


 One of its main functions was organizing and supervising the tournaments and competitions in the West Bank.  Al-Rabita built a system which was based on national, social, and organizational principles.  It had no links to government departments and was free from state bureaucracy. Its members were volunteers who desirably gave their efforts and time for free.  [6]


   Until 1986, the game of volleyball was practiced in form of friendly Sa’iqa

(lightning), organized by clubs in rotation on their open courts. Matches of these tournaments were held for one day (or two days if needed). Among these tournaments were: the Sabra and Shatila Martyrs Championship which was regularly organized by Rammoun Club; the Martyrs Championship by Rantis Club; the Martyr League Championship by Al-Mazra’a al-Sharqiyyah Club; the Orange Championship by Jericho Youth Club; the Spring Championship organized by Askar Youth Center; the Summer Championship by Sinjel Club, the Al-Adha (Championship organized annually by Jayyous SC, the Ramadan Tournament by Ama’ari Youth Center. Other annual tournaments were held in Deir Dibwan, Aboud, Deir Abu Mashaal, Deir Ballout, Tal, Beit Furik, Al-A’uja, Al-Eizariya, Al-Muallimeen (Teachers) Institute in Ramallah and others.[7]


   The Rabita formed the Committee of Volleyball in 1986. Then, the first championship in volleyball was held on the stadiums of Deir Dibwan on September 1986. Eight teams competed for the title, four from the West Bank: Deir Dibwan, Rantis, Al-Auja, Deir Ballout, and four from the Gaza Strip: Jabalia Services, Gaza Sports Club, Al-Ahly Gaza, and Beit Hanoun.[8]


The Jabalia Service Center in Gaza Sector hosted the tournament in 1987, under the supervision of Rabitat al-Andiya, and the participation was limited to four teams: Jabalia Services, Gaza Sports, Deir Dibwan, and Al-Ama’ari Center. [9]


    After the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestine Federation of Volleyball was re-formed. The first national championship was held in 1995. Until mid-1990s volleyball in Palestine was one of the most popular games.[10]


Volleyball activities were suspended due to the second Intifada 2000-2002. In 2005, a new Trophy Championship Botoulat al-Dir’ had started. While the Super Cup was introduced at the opening of each new season starting in 2010, with retaining the refreshing tournaments from time to time. Tournaments for age groups (youth, juniors, and cubs) had been approved and started in 2011.

  The first women's tournament was held in 2007. Later, the league championship for all levels was added to it due to the small number of women's teams, and at the beginning of 2017 the Women's Super-Cup was introduced.[11]


  In October 2018 the Palestinian team achieved its first official international victory, at expense of the Jordanian team, in the Arab Volleyball Championship which was hosted by Egypt.


Currently, the number of clubs affiliated with the Volleyball Association is about 40 clubs in the West Bank, 10 of which are in the premium league and 12 in the first. In the Gaza Strip, there are approximately 30 clubs of different levels affiliated to this association.[12]

Just recently the Volleyball Federation, represented by its president Hamza Radi, signed an exclusive sponsorship agreement for the 19th Palestine Cup for men in volleyball, with “Gerovital Palestine” company represented by its exclusive agent, Murad Burqan. [13]


   At the Executive Committee meeting held in Tunis, the Arab Volleyball Federation approved the President of the Palestinian Federation Hamzah Radhi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Arab Federation. [14]

  Due to Covid 19, volleyball is witnessing a noticeable decline, since it was the first popular game during the 1990s.[15] Nevertheless, Palestine Volleyball Federation is launching a regional tournament in order to revive the game.



[1] Issam Khalidi, One Hundred Years of Football in Palestine (Amman: Dar al-Shorook 2013) p. 47

[2] Issam Khalidi, One Hundred Years of Football in Palestine. p 102

[3] Khalid Ijjawi, Al-haraka al-Riyadiyyah fi al-Shatat. Palestinian Sports Movement in Diaspora, Damascus, 2001. P 449

[4] Rasim Younis, Al-Haraka al-Riyadia fi -Al-Dhaffa al-Gharbiyyah 1967-1987. 1992, p 193

[5] Rasim Younis. p 194

[6] Issam Khalidi, One Hundred Years of Football in Palestine. p

[7] Rasim Younis. p 194

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

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