Today's Telegraph has a story on a tiny soccer club from Israel. It's an antidote to the pessimism that comes from reading the political headlines from the region:
History will be made at St James' Park tonight - not because Graeme Souness will take charge of his first match as Newcastle's new manager but because of the appearance of the first Arab-Israeli side to qualify for a European competition.
...Sakhnin qualified following their Israeli Cup final win over Hapoel Haifa, a performance hailed as a sporting first for Israel's Arab minority of 1.1 million, which is nearly a fifth of the country's population. They secured a place in the UEFA Cup first round proper by beating Albanian side Partizani Tirani 6-1 in the second qualifying round.
The team, which comprises both Arab and Jewish players along with a foreign contingent from Africa, will be cheered on by 100 fans from Sakhnin, an impoverished town with a population of 23,000 near Nazareth in northern Israel.
Just scoring a goal against a club like Newcastle would be an achievement. But I felt the same way when Greece played France... Upsets happen, and fortunes change.
It's nice to read about cooperation between Arabs and Israelis, and interesting that sport provides a vehicle for both the cooperation, and the news of it.