Jamil al-Saloom developed a passion for football when he was a child, and joined the al-Numan club in 2007 when he was 13 years old. He spent years practicing and playing in the team’s matches, but was forced to stop playing when the Syrian revolution erupted.
This year al-Saloom, now 22 years old, is back on the pitch, coaching the junior team of the newly-established Kfar Nabel sports club.
The club was inaugurated by Idleb’s Public Authority for Youth and Sports on September 2, 2014.
“The club does not have a premises,” its chairman Khaled al-Suwaid told Damascus Bureau, “so players are trained on a small pitch built by Kfar Nabel’s Union of Revolutionary Bureaus [URB].”
“The URB also provided the club with a portable cabin that has been stationed next to the pitch, which players use as a changing room,” the 26-year-old continued.
One young footballer, 14-year-old Ammar al-Ibrahim, told Damascus Bureau that a lack of transport meant he had to walk a long way from his village of Kafruma to get to the training grounds.
“I walk a little over four miles to get to the pitch which is quite tiring. But once I’m there I focus on my training and practice everything my coach teaches me. I love football, and would be willing to walk a longer distance to play if needed,” he said.
Another junior player, 12-year-old Eissa al-Mastu from the town of Hass, said joining the Kfar Nabel junior team was a dream come true.
“I used to fantasise about playing football on a green pitch. On our training days I feel happy from the moment I wake up, and when I finally arrive at the pitch and start kicking the ball around, I feel as if my happiness is complete.”
This article was republished in The Syrian Observer at a special agreement with Damascus Bureau.