The Incredible Story of the Founder of the Palestinian Women’s Soccer Team

For her, sport is a way to break down barriers between cultures. A look back at the career and convictions of Honey Thaljieh, a gifted soccer player and peace activist.

Honey Thaljieh will never forget April 5, 2005. On that day, the Palestinian women’s soccer team lost 2-0 to Syria in their first official match. But for the young woman and her teammates, it was the culmination of a struggle that had begun in the streets of Bethlehem 20 years earlier.

Seeking girls to form a team

The only girl in a family of five boys, Honey had to fight from childhood to impose her ambition: she wanted to play soccer like them. By dint of dribbling, she will end up making a place for herself in this very male environment.

The young woman is not discouraged by the war and the instability of her country. At the University of Bethlehem, where she is enrolled, she answers an advertisement: “seeks girls to form a team.” Even though the project seemed to be buried, she persevered to make it happen, supported by the sports department director.

Soccer against intolerance

And here we are in 2005. The playmaker has succeeded in her bet but does not stop there: the creation of a women’s league, the construction of a stadium… The captain, with 17 selections, acts and hammers her message of tolerance. This Christian wants all religions to be represented in her sport, which she considers a crucible for peace. Today, the federation has 500 licensed girls, and Honey Thaljieh continues her action with the FIFA authorities.

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