A few months after I arrived in Colombia to start what ended up being five years with the CPT Colombia team, the 2013 AMF Futsal Women’s World Cup was held in Barrancabermeja, of all places.

I knew nothing of this tournament before it showed up in the dusty 7000-capacity Luis Fernando Castellanos stadium, but I was all in. I had no idea who was favoured to win—spoiler alert, it was not Canada, who left the tournament with a -23 goal difference after two losses and a draw—but I attended nearly every match of the tournament, determined to bask in the joy of the game. I’m sure Team Canada, and everyone else, loved the three wild transplanted Canadian fans though, with our face paint melting in the humid heat and clutching our maple leaf flag (that we usually only brought out for direct actions denouncing our country’s policies). I was even asked for a bunch of selfies outside the stadium and if I remember correctly, I made the local news. As consolation, Team Colombia swept the tournament and we easily switched sides to cheer on our new home team to a fantastic victory. 

This week the 2023 Asia Cup is underway in Doha, Qatar. After a tough defeat against Iran, Team Palestine held on to a draw with the UAE and pulled off a big 3-0 win against Hong Kong to qualify for the first time to the round of 16. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Palestine’s captain Musab Al-Battat made it clear that their performance was an attempt to give people something to smile about. At the same time, he asserted that “we have a right to participate in every major football tournament, and not just for the sake of participation, but to show our skills. We deserve to be here.”

Does it feel uncomfortable that I’m writing to you about soccer during this painful moment in history? Yes. But it would also feel uncomfortable to not recognize a historical moment for Palestinian joy. 

We can hold both joy and pain simultaneously. In fact, we need the joy in order to sustain ourselves in the work for justice. During the craze of the futsal tournament in Barrancabermeja, someone mentioned to our CPT team that this was the happiest they’d seen us in a while. In contexts of conflict, destruction, and unimaginable horror, joy moves us forward and gives us the strength.

So watch the games and cheer on Al Battat and his teammates. Or if soccer’s not your thing, get into the kitchen and make Palestinian maqlubeh or qidre, pull out your needlepoint and stitch a cat wearing a kuffiyeh, or learn the words to Fairuz’s Palestinian anthem, Zahret al Mada’en. Find your joy. 

It’s exactly in these moments when it’s hardest to find the joy that we must intentionally seek out joy. It is there, and it will carry us through.

Picture of Hannah Redekop

Hannah Redekop

CPT Communications Associate

Send Hannah a note: peacemakers@cpt.org

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