Palestinian footballer Honey Thaljieh considers sport a tool for peace
One of Peace and Sport’s 'Champions for Peace’, Honey Thaljieh, has insisted the Middle East can be a peaceful location sporting-wise and generally.
“I started something in Palestine and it worked, so I don’t see any reason why it cannot work in any other place as well,” the former Palestine women’s football team captain told Gulf News from Switzerland.
“I had a vision and I went about chasing my dreams. These things worked in Palestine and I believe it is possible to achieve similar changes in any other part of the world,” Thaljieh added.
Last month, Thaljieh was announced as the latest Champion for Peace by Peace and Sport President and Founder Joel Bouzou to mark the International Women’s Day this year.
Thaljieh, who is now involved with world governing body Fifa in Switzerland, is a well-known face in the Middle East region after becoming the first ever female football captain in Palestine. And, given that she is an active member of the Peace through Sport family, she is convinced of the role sport can play in the pursuit of peace, especially in this region.
“Since I have this title of Champions for Peace, it is now my responsibility to change things a bit and bring in an awareness towards so many aspects of life, either in the Gulf or the Middle East regions,” Thaljieh said.
Thaljieh is scheduled to land in Dubai on Sunday to attend the Peace and Sport Forum on Tuesday, where she will be involved on the opening day in the third session that has been entitled âUnderstanding the Challenges: Initiatives and Programmes to consolidate values of peace and sport’.
“We have so many issues that we can take up during the course of the forum, such as participation of women in sports or changing stereotypes about being an Arab or Muslim or the bigger issue of gender equality.
“Sport has made me what I am and I am glad to have this opportunity to give back something to sport. I know sport can make a positive impact for peace in the Middle East and I am prepared to be a part of this change,” she said.
Growing up as a woman footballer in Bethlehem, Thaljieh has a deep understanding of the challenges in the Middle East and how sport can help achieve genuine progress instead of mere rhetoric.
“This forum is special to me as it is being held in my region. I am a champion for peace and I feel responsible for what is happening,” she added.