By Marcus Rhinelander
Jadu, April 8
Jadu versus Tatouine was not a battle in a Star Wars movie but a football match in . . .[restrict]Libya’s first post-revolution international “friendly” last Thursday in the Jebel Nafusa.
Two youth teams from the south Tunisian town came to Jadu for the match: under-15s and under-18s. In the former match the visitors won 8 to 4. In the latter, the home team got its revenge 8 to 3. Everyone agreed that it was a good beginning to what they hope is a regular exchange between youth teams of the two countries.
“Sports has the power to bring people together and help them, especially the youths,” said Maklouf Mabrouk, a former Libya international player and current President of the Veterans of the Libyan Football Team. “We try to get rid of all the bad things that happened to these youths. One of them his father was killed in the revolution. They are very innocent but they have seen many terrible things. We try to help them forget the bad things and get on with their lives. This is the least we can do.”
For the kids in the game, they didn’t seem to need any encouragement. Both matches were hard fought and if the winners were happier than the losers, good sportsmanship prevailed.
The teams played five-on-five, indoor rules. Jadu’s football pitch is small, artificial turf, perched on the edge of cliffs above Wadi Zerga, surrounded by fencing and covered with a net to keep stray balls from going over the edge. “Look at this field! I don’t like this surface, especially for the youth,” said Mabrouk. “But 42 years of Qaddafi! We need to bring them better facilities — but it will take time.”
As for the future, Mabrouk has big plans: “We brought the Tunisian club here and we will try to send out Libyan clubs to Tunisia. We will have more games in Tripoli, in many places, all over Libya! Sports can help exchange ideas. After our revolutions, we can use soccer to help the youth in both countries.”