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With a high athletic spirit, they wore their unified team uniform and went to the stadium with persistence and determination to win after the coach whistled announcing the beginning of the match. They were divided into two competing teams, including young women whose bodies showed how much pain they have suffered since they were born. Their disability became a milestone in their lives. However, they refused to despair and decided to accept the fate. They made their disability the energy that leads them to achieve their goals. “Palestine Newspaper” observed those female players during a match through the next report.
“Hopscotch is my sport”
Abeer Al-Horkali, a 22-year-old student of Public Relations and Media at Gaza University and a member of the basketball team of Peace Sport Club. During the events of the first Palestinian Intifada, her mother inhaled a gas that killed everything that would bring joy and life, causing her congenital malformation which surprised her parents and relatives when she was born.
She said, “I did not enjoy my childhood because I spent it in hospitals. After each operation they gave me “my baby dolls.” After I left the hospital and “a plaster cast” was wrapped around my feet, my father put a chair for me in front of our door to watch the children of my age playing as an emotional participation.
She always imagined herself playing “hopscotch” and dreamed that she would heal and hold “chalk” and draw with her hands lines to play with her friends and take a role with them but the wheelchair was her fate.
However, she loved sports she had been deprived throughout the school classes. She was sitting alone in the school yard while her colleagues were moving from one sport to another like “butterflies.” Sometimes she just watched and encouraged the others, especially in high school when she integrated with ordinary people who attacked her with their eyes and words.
She broke into sports through the sport of athletics, marathon, and basketball which killed her excessive sensitivity and fear of people whom she was previously suffering from. She added, “My goal was to change the people’s perception of girls with disabilities who love playing sports, especially the female basketball players.”
Abeer, the actress, writer of plays and scenarios and activist in the field of prisoners, broke into the world of sports to win the gold medals in local competitions within the clubs of the Gaza Strip. She hopes to participate in international competitions to raise the flag of Palestine.
Sport killed her introversion
Once again, the coach whistled announcing a 10-minute break to regain strength, renew determination among team members. We met Areej Ayesh, a 23-year-old graduate of the University College of Applied Sciences, specializing in Advertising Design and Multimedia. She is suffering from congenital deformity since birth which forces her to use wheelchair. Her only question to her parents “why are my legs short?”
She said, “I was a little bit introverted, but sport was a door to engage with the world of ordinary people in order to get to know their point of views about people with disabilities and then integrate with my peers with disabilities.”
Ayesh added “my participation in the activities of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities at university widened my horizons in the field of sports. I got to know the Paralympic Committee, so I started training at the Peace Sport Club for people with physical disabilities where I learned a lot of skills and began to integrate with people and youth with physical disabilities.”
Ayesh chose the basketball game despite its difficulty. Before starting the training, she did not leave her home and only integrated with her family and relatives because of her situation. She continued her speech, “Practicing sports develops talent. It is also a valuable opportunity to open up to a new world in life, interact with the community, achieve goals, and develop self and physical abilities.”
Courage, athletic spirit and fun; qualities added to the character of Ayesh after joining the basketball team.
Sport lift her pirits
Rania Massoud Al-Sahbani, 32 years old, move her wheelchair quickly to catch the ball and hit it towards the goal. Her breath started to rise and her body became sweaty because of the sun, but the challenge enabled her to score goals against the other team.
She explained that she loved the world of sport because it gave her a high moral spirit and develop her performance and skills in the game of basketball and athletics.
Al-Sahbani added, “Such sports, especially basketball as it is a group game, help integrate people with disabilities with each other because they have the same interest. Moreover, they help integrate people with disabilities with their community, thus enhance the self-confidence of people.” She also added that the Gaza Strip suffers from several problems, such as the lack of clubs of basketball, in addition to some other sports and the destruction of some of them during the Israeli aggression, and the lack of support and high processing costs.
The young woman, Al-Sahbani, for 27 years of her age, she was normal, but on Wednesday, December 30, 2009, at 4 P.M., the weather was stormy and rainy, and she went upstairs to the roof of the house to hang up the laundry. She fell down from the third floor because of the wind. She moved between the Israeli and Egyptian hospitals for treatment, but she ended up with paralysis in the lower half of her body after receiving physiotherapy.
She hopes to continue her path in sports, receive more attention and participate in international competitions
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