Members of the Al Helal Football Academy
A planned visit to Naas by a soccer team from a war ravaged part of the Middle East has been called off. The Al Helal kids, as they are known, come from Gaza, which is bordered by Israel and which has seen considerable violence as a result of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians who live there.
Last year a group of 19 children from a football academy in Gaza came here for a nine day visit, during which they played soccer at a number of locations around Ireland. At the time of last year’s visit it was reported in The Journal that few of the children, aged between 10 and 14, had ever left Gaza.
This year the team was due to play a game on Saturday last at Killashee House Hotel but it was called off — due to the unexpected closure of a route between Gaza and Egypt.
This meant the children could not get make it to Ireland in time. The visit was being arranged by Gaza Kids to Ireland, a project which brings children out of Gaza for a short time to give then a chance to meet other children and have fun.
“It was called off at fairly short notice and we’re disappointed but fully understand that it’s out of our control. They’ve been coming here for a couple of years and we look forward to them visiting again,” said Donal Coyle of Naas United.