Deir Ezzor: Local football leagues reflect people’s great passion
Deir Ezzor – Obadah al-Sheikh
The sports sector in the eastern and western countryside of Deir Ezzor within the areas of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) suffers from a lack of support and marginalization, especially football, the local and most popular sport.
Despite the neglect and lack of support, the love of football drives the elderly and young people of Deir Ezzor to organize football leagues and “six-a-side” matches that enjoy popular demand in the region.
Football tops the hobbies of the residents, as it has become the only sport that the people of the region accept to organize leagues for in different towns and villages in the governorate or to join local tournaments in other governorates.
In the countryside of Deir Ezzor, football teams are spread, some of which represent the names of towns and villages, and others bear titles related to the clans of which their sons are proud.
Among the most prominent teams in the region is “Foutoua–Abu Hammam,” or “Safir al-Shaitat,” as the people of the region call it. It is one of the most prominent teams in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, as it owns a group of stars in the region, some of whom were invited to the Syrian Premier League clubs in regime-held areas, but they refused to join.
The captain of the “Foutoua–Abu Hammam” team, Saleh al-Hussein Saleh, told Enab Baladi that his team leads the region’s teams in terms of achieving championships at the level of Deir Ezzor, as the team achieved ten championships in the “Al-Zaeem” stadium in the town of al-Jarthi before the stadium was covered with grass, and three championships after that.
The same team dominated the tournaments in the Eshbeliya (Seville) Stadium League in the Kashkiya region, as it won 13 titles, according to al-Saleh.
He added that his team participated abroad in northeastern Syria, for example, in the “Tal Mashhn” tournament, as it reached the semi-finals of the tournament, which is considered the largest in northeastern Syria, in addition to the Manbij and Ain al-Arab tournaments.
Yasser al-Abed, a player in the Deir Ezzor team (representing Deir Ezzor locally), told Enab Baladi that the region is organizing a football league at the regional level, starting from the town of Hajin to al-Baghouz, east of Deir Ezzor, and includes several teams, most notably the “Students of Sousa” team, the champion of the latest version of the tournament. The tournament was held at the Sousa Stadium.
Among the most famous league clubs are al-Ittihad-Sousa, al-Arqoub, Siti, al-Foutoua, al-Jazira, Ahly al-Shaafah, and al-Taraji, according to Yasser.
Difficulties facing players
Al-Abed told Enab Baladi that players in the region face many difficulties, most notably the difficulty of playing in dirt courts and the lack of financial support.
He added that tournaments in the region are organized individually or at the clubs’ expense, especially since the tournaments are held in private stadiums; the cost of reserving is 25,000 Syrian pounds.
Yasser Mousa, who is responsible for the “Jadeed al-Baggara” team in Deir Ezzor, told Enab Baladi that his team was able to return to the stadiums again due to the contributions of some people who love sports despite the limited capabilities.
He added that throughout the year, football tournaments are organized in the region on the grounds of the modest Jadid al-Baggara stadium with a dirt floor, and many people have already tried to sell the land because it is considered state property, but those in charge of the team were preventing that to preserve the stadium that has become known as belonging to the Jadid al-Baggara team.
One of the most prominent tournaments organized by the AANES Sports Federation in Deir Ezzor is the championship for the age groups (cubs, juniors, and youth), and the union’s intervention was limited to organizational matters.
During the current period, a special 40-day tournament is being held, with modest prizes that include a kit for the first place, a ball for the second-placed team, and a medal for the best goalkeeper. These are symbolic prizes that reflect the capabilities of football fans in the region, according to Mousa.
The problem of lack of interest in services and lack of funding is generally seen in the Autonomous Administration areas, as football teams throughout the east of the Euphrates suffer from lack of interest, starting from al-Hasakah to Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria.
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