As you already recognized, it is quite hard to catch a football match in the West Bank, because the Palestine’s are not into local football and you cannot find printed timetables, where you are able to inform. While walking through the nice souks of Nablus asking for a match at the Municipal Stadium the Palestinians are giving hints where bars are showing English and Spanish football. Of course, we didn’t want to watch football in a bar, we wanted to see a match in the stadium, which we saw from the International Guest House, where we slept during our visit (our definitive recommondation for Nablus groundhoppers). The Palestinians were quiet surprised why we wanted to watch a match there, because the local football is bad, we would be disappointed about the level and anyway they did not know it.
So until now we had no clue when there would be a match in Nablus. On the way back to the guest house from the old town we saw that the flood light was illuminating the stadium and we went there to see a match. While we arrived there a couple of teams were training and we were told that there would be a match at 2 pm tomorrow. Perfect!
The next day we arrived 15 minutes before the match was supposed to start at the ground and again there was just a training taking place of Al-Ittihad the Nablus first team. Because the gates where open I went down to the pitch and went to one goal were the goalies exercised and asked them when the match will be. By the way, even harder than watching football is someone to find who understands you properly. So they called a guy who was capable of understanding my questions. He said, there would be two U17-matches today, one at 4 pm and the other one at 6 pm and not at 2 pm as we understood the day before. After we knew now finally from a real source, I was invited to shoot a couple of penalties to the third goal keeper of the team with my boots, because the airline I flew into Tel Aviv with lost my luggage.
The stadium is still under construction. It is still without roof but it is foreseen sometime. There is just one possibility to enter the ground and they don’t charge us a fee. On the the opposite site, I assume there will be the seating area later on. Behind the goals there are no possibilities to follow the match. Besides the entrance there is a wee building, where the shop is placed with a small “restaurant”. From there you can also take chairs to take outside on the stands so that you don’t have to sit on the concrete. Surprisingly there is also a second room where a bed is placed. This bed is not used by the greenkeeper, because the pitch is due to the lack of water out of artificial turf.
Not disappointed due to our first visit of a football match in the West Bank, I did not expect nice food you get in the streets during the match. You find a couple of sweets, non alcoholic drinks, nuts and popcorn. They also offer tee and coffee and even water pipes with various tastes. A chocolate roll and a tea which I ate costs 3 Shekel, around 60 Cents. The roll is packed in plastics. They completely ignore also local bakery as they in Hamburg do with the local butchers. The taste of the roll was artificial, which at least means it lasts forever. I just assess sausages so the the roll does not make it to our league. Later one we bought a water pipe with tea for 10 Shekel, which is around 2 Euros. Especially the water pipe (sisha) while watching football is pretty relaxing and would also pretty cool back home in Germany.
The match we were watching was Nablus Youth against Youth Center Askar. Askar is one out of three refugee camps around Nablus. The match was as it had been told earlier. Bad. In the first half we saw four wrong throw-ins and one own goal by Askar, which made it 1-0 for the local team. At the end Nablus won 4-1 but we did not follow properly. When we left we got also popcorn for free.
To watch football in the West Bank you have to be pretty patient and we are curious to know how it is in Israel, where we traveled the next day on the 29th to see Maccabi-Derby, Tel Aviv against Haifa the next day.
I was not able to find a emblem of Nablus, so I used the one of the Palestinian Football Federation.