The girls on home ground

Palestine FC have travelled a long distance to get to Norway Cup. But in this tournament, all girl teams are playing on their home ground.

This year’s Norway Cup is the 44th edition of the tournament, and the girls have been part of the cup since the start. One third of the teams are girl teams this year, and Monday 1st of August is a day specially dedicated to the girls.

The Palestinian team Palestine FC is one of 689 girl teams in this year’s tournament. The players are from different Palestinian areas, and they only had one training camp together in Palestine before the tournament. However, they still get along just fine, according to two of the players, Aqsa Hassan and Nour Afanih.

– We feel like sisters, with everyone helping each other on their way, the girls say.

They have just lost 6-0 to Årvoll, in a match where the Palestinians showed impressive technique, but they struggled coping with the physically strong Norwegian players. But team leader Hannadi Nasser Eldin refuses to be let down by the result.

– We don’t get sad when we lose. We try to learn from our opponents in stead, Nasser Eldin says.

Girls’ football growingPalestine FC

Hannadi Nasser Eldin is also working for the Palestinian Football Association. Se explains how the girls’ football is getting more popular in Palestine. A lot of clubs and academies are ran across the country, and several teams participate in international tournaments. In recent years Palestine has been represented with girl teams in the U-19, U-16 and U14 Asian Cup.

Football is also a big part of everyday life for a lot of young players. Aqsa Hassan started playing when she was very young. Her uncle was the one persuading her to go training.

– My father is in prison, and this has made me work hard in training, to help raise his head, Hassan says.

Through the year, the girls practice football two or three times a week with their local teams. Now they have teamed up as Palestine FC at Ekebergsletta. And they are really enjoying themselves.

– The girls think it is nice. They like the situation, and people are really helpful. But they are not used to playing on grass, because we have no grass fields in Palestine, Hannadi Nasser Eldin says.

The birth of girls’ football in Norway

On the grass fields of Ekebergsletta, however, the girls have been chasing the ball every year since the first Norway Cup in 1972. And Norway Cup’s grandmother – Rigmor Andresen – deserves much of the credit. She was the leader of Bækkelaget Sportsklub when the club was creating Norway Cup, but the rest of the board did not want girls in the tournament. The story of what happened next has become well knowh through the years: Rigmor got up and was on her way out of the room.

– The others asked «Where are you going?». I told them if they did not want girls in the tournament, it was no use in me staying either. That changed their mind, Rigmor says.

Eight girl teams participated in the first Norway Cup, with players aged 8 to 40 years old. It was not until four years later the Norwegian Football Association acknowledged women’s football. This means women’s football celebrates 40 years in Norway this year. But on Norway Cup we celebrate 44.

Hannadi Nasser Eldin with the players from Palestine FC and their opponents Årvoll after their first match in Norway Cup.
Hannadi Nasser Eldin with the players from Palestine FC and their opponents Årvoll after their first match in Norway Cup.

By: Magne Mellem Enoksen