May 16, 2014
In a rebel-held area in rural Idlib, in north-west Syria, a local soccer team is returning to play on the field that was destroyed by barrel bombs dropped by Syrian government helicopters. Through the efforts of the players and the children of the town, the Saraqeb "Martyrs" were able to assemble a basic field to resume practicing the sport they love and to forget about the war they are living.
Monzer Ramadan, the coach of the Saraqeb Martyrs, organized a tournament of same name in honor of the people who have died during the war.
Monzer Ramadan - coach and event organizer:
Under the pressure of the killing and the destruction that we are suffering from here in Saraqeb, we wanted to take the players out so they can relive the life we used to have in the fields.
With humble efforts from the young men we were able to assemble a basic filed, we had to take subscription money from teams to be able to by footballs and tools for the championship, and thank God everything worked out. Sometimes during the match, planes fly above us and then we are forced to pause the game and return to it later on. We are trying to cheer up the children, through these difficult circumstances that you are aware of, I want to deliver a message; we are daring the regime and still we are able to live.
Mosaab - the referee: When things settles down a bit after the firing and the bombing, we felt that we shouldn’t stay prisoners in our homes, with the cooperation of captain Monzer Ramadan and the spirit of the young children we came to the field which was destroyed because of a barrel bomb, the children worked together to clean this filed step by step and took them about twenty days to get this spot clean, where we have the tournament now and we are able to train the children.
Sami - Saraqeb martyrs team captain:
I am an attacker in the team of Saraqeb martyrs, we are playing this tournament in the honor of the Syrian martyrs, in spite of the bombing and the firing, we are still playing in the name of the martyrs and the team name that we chose is the team of Saraqeb martyrs, we will keep playing and hopefully if we win today we will be qualified for the quarter-final.
Mahmoud - player:
The members of our team, Saraqeb martyrs are rebels, from the front line to the field and the play in the name of the martyrs.
Asaad - tournament supervisor:
We have been practicing here for three years prior to the revolution, when the planes started dropping bombs over Saraqeb, a barrel bomb was dropped on the filed, the field was covered with rocks after the attack, it took me and the children about two months to fix it the way it used to be.
Interviewer: Why were you eager to get back to the field?
Asaad - tournament supervisor:
As I told you, we have been practicing for over three years before the revolution, these children as attached to the field more than they are attached to their own families, so am I.
We suffered to fix the field, but it was worth it, and we only have this little area left to fix, hopefully we will do it soon.