Youth soccer tournament planned in Gaza as threat of Israeli invasion looms

Layne Mullett
Director of Media Relations


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#GoalsForGaza games will also take place in Chicago, Madison, Washington DC, and elsewhere

RAFAH and PHILADELPHIA (April 24, 2024) – On April 28, Palestinian teens displaced by the Israeli military will have a rare opportunity for fun and recreation. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization with staff in Gaza – is hosting a soccer tournament in the camps housing displaced people in Rafah. Photos and video will be shared on AFSC’s social media accounts.  

“The young people of Gaza have experienced so much hardship and trauma over the last six months,” said Firas Ramlawi, manager for AFSC’s Gaza office and one of the tournament organizers. “They have lost parents, siblings, and loved ones. They have been displaced from their homes and their schools and community spaces have been bombed. It is so important that they experience moments of joy and resiliency in the midst of all this pain.”

Fifty players have been organized into 10 teams for the tournament. Each teen will wear the name of a famous player. Participants will all receive food baskets to help them provide for their families. Supporters are encouraged to share the photos and video of the games with soccer fans and encourage players to take a stand in support of a cease-fire and humanitarian aid using the hashtag #GoalsForGaza. Solidarity matches will also take place in Washington, DC., Chicago, and Madison, Wis., with other locations to be announced. 

As the young players prepare for the tournament, Israel continues to prepare for an invasion of Rafah, and the U.S. Congress prepares to send another $26 billion in military funding to Israel. The Israeli military has already killed more than 34,000 Palestinians since October 7 and has pushed the majority of Gaza’s residents – around 1.4 million – into Rafah. 

“In the U.S., teens might worry their soccer match will be called off because of rain. In Rafah, it is not weather but Israeli missiles that threaten the game, the players, and the 1.4 million Palestinians taking shelter there,” said Noor Nabulsi, communications specialist for AFSC. “We are calling on President Biden and every single member of Congress to support an immediate and permanent cease-fire, full humanitarian access, and an end of all military support for Israel. The young people of Palestine deserve a future where they can grow and play in peace.”

The American Friends Service Committee has been supporting humanitarian efforts in Gaza since 1948 and currently has staff in Gaza, Ramallah, and Jerusalem, as well as in Jordan. AFSC staff in Gaza have been serving hot meals from an open-air kitchen to displaced people living outside of shelters. Since October, they have provided aid to more than 541,000 people – providing families with water, food parcels, fresh vegetables, and hygiene kits – and have hosted recreational activities for children. 

You can find more information about the tournament and AFSC’s work here:


The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) promotes a world free of violence, inequality, and oppression. Guided by the Quaker belief in the divine light within each person, we nurture the seeds of change and the respect for human life to fundamentally transform our societies and institutions. We work with people and partners worldwide, of all faiths and backgrounds, to meet urgent community needs, challenge injustice, and build peace.