Football Academy - AIDA Celtic
The AIDA Celtic Football Academy came about after much support and Palestinian solidarity from Celtic fans over the years. The story began on August 17th 2016, when Celtic hosted a game with Israeli Hapoel Beer-Sheva in a Champions League Qualification fixture. The Celtic ultras group, the Green Brigade, known for their solidarity and forged relationships in Palestine, they showered their section of the ground with Palestinian flags during the game. Not only was this an iconic image and political statement, but it also facilitated the Celtic support and the entire, global Palestine solidarity campaign. The Celtic team was charged by the UEFA for its supporters’ actions, resulting in a fine of £8,600. The Green Brigade launched the #MatchTheFineForPalestine with the hope of doing exactly as their hashtag declared. To much of their surprise, the appeal went global with donations flooding in from worldwide supporters as the story drew in more attention. Not only did the hashtag bring in enough to cover the UEFA fine, but it surpassed it with continuous support. Support and thanks showered the media outlets from the West Bank and Gaza, with photographs of people and children holding signs, banners, and Celtic shirts showing their appreciation and solidarity with the team. An outstanding £176,076 was raised and split between two beneficiaries: Medical Aid for Palestine (MAP) and the Lajee Center.
The Lajee Center had a relationship with the Green Brigade years before these events took place, and thus reinforced a stronger base for which the two organizations to work together and build a long-lasting legacy. In 2019 was the official launch of Aida Celtic, a football academy representing Aida Camp. It is locally managed by the Lajee Center and supported internationally by the Green Brigade. Aida Celtic’s mission is simple and modest – to provide young Palestinian refugee footballers with a fully equipped and financed football setup. With the correct stewardship, guidance and international support it is hoped that Aida Celtic will flourish from humble beginnings just like the club they borrow their name from. “It is a universal belief that football can break barriers and bring hope – it is hoped that Aida Celtic, who sit in the shadow of an illegal separation wall, will be the next example of this.”