Al-Hasakah: Local football leagues gain popular interest
Al-Hasakah – Majd al-Salem
Football has become a space for recreation and enjoyment, whether for players or spectators, in the city of al-Hasakah, in light of the difficult conditions Syria is going through at the political, economic, and social levels.
The northeastern region witnesses the organization of local leagues in the city’s countryside, during the spring season of each year, which enjoys a high follow-up by the local residents, despite the modest capabilities of the organizing parties, which are usually with individual initiatives.
Recreational and fun
On his motorcycle, Uday al-Alou, 25, is keen to attend most of the matches in an enthusiastic atmosphere, and he and his friends travel from one village to another, trying not to miss any match between two teams.
Al-Alou told Enab Baladi that the atmosphere during the spring season encourages the participation of popular leagues from a large number and different age groups, and every year the number of participating teams that represent different villages increases.
It does not seem that these matches are spread on a small scale, but there are a large number of expatriate residents of these villages who follow the matches through social media and follow the news of the teams on Facebook, al-Alou said.
The distance does not prevent Qahtan al-Hussein, 33, from heading from the neighboring city of Qamishli to al-Hasakah to follow these matches, which he considers better than the leagues that take place in cities, pointing out that the number of attendance in rural tournaments exceeds their other counterparts, and they also enjoy the enthusiasm of the fans and their loyalty to their teams.
In addition, attendance and encouragement contribute to the discharge of negative charges, and follow-up is considered an outlet to get rid of stress, according to al-Hussein.
Akram al-Muqtaf, one of the organizers of the local leagues, said that the huge public turnout comes because football has become the only outlet for citizens in light of the difficult economic and living conditions.
He added that the fans are in the thousands in the leagues without exception, and what made their number increase is the strength of the competition reached by the popular football teams, and some of them began to recruit players at the level of Syria, and they represent the first-class clubs, such as the players of al-Jihad, al-Jazira, al-Fotuwa, and al-Wathba.
Individual effort to organize
Organizing popular football leagues is usually an individual effort by villagers and some supporters from the same area, says Akram al-Muqtaf.
He explained that most of the support comes from wealthy residents of the region, such as merchants or tribal leaders.
There is also support from expatriates and refugees in neighboring countries, who previously played in these leagues and are still interested in them, as they collect sums of money, each according to his ability ($50 or 100), and send them to those in charge of the leagues to cover the expenses of transporting players and buying prizes such as medals and sports kits and other needs, but it remains “less than required.”
Al-Muqtaf’s work includes organizing match dates and broadcasting everything related to these leagues through social media.
The tournament consists of 16 local teams, which play according to the knockout system up to the final match, and the first four places receive financial and in-kind prizes.
In the Tal Hamis league, the first-place team will receive the championship cup, medals, sports uniforms, and 2 million SYP.
The second place holder will receive a cup, silver medals, sportswear, and 1.5 million SYP, while the third place will receive one million Syrian pounds and a cup, and the fourth will receive a cup and 500,000 Syrian pounds, in addition to the individual prizes for the tournament’s top scorer, best player, and best goalkeeper.
The support also includes the broadcasters of the matches, and each one of them gets 100,000 SYP, according to al-Muqtaf.
Many problems, challenges
Despite its importance, local leagues face many challenges, and the first of which is the lack of funding due to the absence of any official party that supports them, with the exception of some people who provide financial support for the establishment of these tournaments, in addition, there are no good playgrounds except for clay courts, which are deteriorating and in poor condition, al-Muqtaf told Enab Baladi.
While some problems go towards the audience’s objection to arbitration, especially in the absence of experienced referees and the lack of knowledge of football laws, which creates many problems, disagreements, and quarrels between competing teams over the validity of goals or calculating fouls.
Al-Muqtaf called on the responsible authorities in the region to provide support to the players and the organizers alike, including material support and assistance in providing some prizes and providing logistical support to the teams, such as nets, flags, and referee kits.
In addition to providing moral support by visiting these tournaments, meeting the organizers and players, listening to them, and discussing some of the obstacles in the tournaments.
Enab Baladi has learned that the organization of popular tournaments does not require a license from the official authorities in the region controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), but the youth and sports committees in the councils of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) are notified, in order to avoid any problems and to help resolve any dispute between the teams.
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