Idlib Calling | 3 oktober 2019 | by Evert-Jan Grit

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Meet Ahmed, theater producer from Saraqeb, and friend and partner of PAX. His life is no bed of roses. Saraqeb is in the Syrian province of Idlib, in the northwest of the country. Idlib's future is, to say the least, uncertain.
Every day, people get killed in air strikes and shelling by the Syrian and Russian armies. Children die covered in dust and debris. The war in Idlib is primarily a war against civilians.
A couple of times a month we speak with Ahmed to hear how he and his family are getting on. He says its important for people in Idlib that we here in the Netherlands hear about what's happening. It makes them feel like they haven't been forgotten.

Idlib Calling: Keeper

Last week, after a long absence, a soccer league started up again in Saraqeb. The league is dedicated to Mohammed Jdeiry, who was killed six months ago in an attack on Saraqeb. Mohammed was very active in various organizations in Saraqeb, especially in sports. Hence this soccer league. Ahmed’s youth club has a soccer team and I naturally ask him about the results.

“Hi Ahmed, how’s the soccer league going?”

“Good and bad. The first two games went well: we got four points from two games. But we lost yesterday. In itself fine, if you look at our players, haha. But now the bad news: the four points we had have been taken away because the first two teams we played were removed from the competition.”

“What!?”

“You know how it goes, tempers flared, and two players got into a fight, then the whole teams and the the crowd got involved. Yeah, we also have our problems with the hooligans in Saraqeb.”

“And now we’re left with zero points, and we lost our only match. But it was a good match! We lost by just 0-1. I was the goal keeper.”

“I just wanted to ask you, where were you?”

“I’m kind of big, so the logical place for me is keeper. But it’s kind of a joke. I used to play keeper when I was still playing soccer and I did quite well. Yesterday I dealt with five breakaways who got through the defence. The trick is to look them in the eye, but also to watch the ball. If you understand how it works, you know exactly when and where they are going to shoot.”

“The audience was very enthusiastic. I wish someone had made video recordings, I would have loved to see it again, while it’s still possible to enjoy it. Because Friday we play a team from our real football club: Saraqeb FC. I think I know who’s going to  win that game.”

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