"The kids are their window to the world outside" - Ireland welcomes children's football team from Gaza

Children from Al-Helal football club, aged from 10 to 14 years old, will play game in Dublin, Tipperary and Wexford

Gaza Children

Image: Twitter/People Before Profit

Over the weekend, Ireland welcomed children from war torn Gaza to take part in a series of football matches around the country.

Children from Al-Helal football club, aged from 10 to 14 years old, will play games in Tipperary and Wexford, but began their trip around the country in Ballybrack.

"This is the first time we've done it, but we've been working on it since 2013," Gaza Action Ireland's coordinator, Zoë Lawlor, told Newstalk Lunchtime.

"We launched it officially with Brian Kerr in 2014, but at the time Gaza was attacked by Israel and 556 children were killed - they didn't die in Gaza that year, they were killed in the 51 day attack. That stalled us for a while but we started again early this year. It's taken months to get off the ground. 

"They were due to be here and would have gone back last Monday, but they weren't given their permits to exit Gaza so we've had to reschedule and rejig everything. but we're so happy they're here, it's great."

The children got their first taste of action on Irish soil this weekend as they took part in the opening game of their visit.

"They're loving it and are having a great time. They played Ballybrack FC on Sunday and thanks to them, it was a really great event. They won 2-0, so obviously they were really happy.

"There was huge support from the people of Ballybrack and from the Palestine community... It's a big break for [the children], they live under an illegal Israeli siege so they can't travel. Also, for their family back in Gaza, they can't leave and it's literally an open air prison. Their parents have been asking them to video everything. Everyone at home is fascinated to see, the kids are their window to the world outside."