Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem – From The Fans, For The Fans

The unity captured on the club's Facebook page.

The unity captured on the club’s Facebook page.

Normally when one would hear the above interpret, a cliché-esque story of a group literally created by the fans for the fans, is expected. And honestly, reading them would never disappoint.

The same transpired this past weekend in Israel as Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem, the only fan owned club in the country, won its first ever promotion to Liga Leumit (Israel’s Second Tier Football League).

In a city, wherein football or anything of its sort is dominated by the notorious top flight team Beitar Jerusalem, this accomplishment is the latest highlight of a club which came into existence after a group of irritated fans, unhappy with the mismanagement, decided to break away from the parent club – Hapoel Jerusalem, six years ago.

Though they call the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem (the humble abode of Beitar Jerusalem) their home, unlike their neighbors, their forward thinking has managed to draw people from different religious beliefs; both Jewish and Arab, predominantly focusing on families. The same cohesion is reflected in the squad as well with couple of Israeli – Arabs in the senior team Sameer Abdalhai and Islam Elzinti while the youth team consists of Musa Salim, Salah Elyan and Mahmoud Sharaf.

According to its website, the club has more than 400 members who basically pay an annual membership fee and choose, by ballot, a direction-finding team that would run the day-to-day affairs, keeping away from on-pitch decisions. Visiting their Facebook page would show you a glimpse of how active their followers truly are.

It’s actually quite hard to say what’s most inspiring about Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem’s latest achievement; the fact that passionate fans of the club can make a change or it being the club that has broken divides in terms of race and religion to bring people together.

I, for one, am hoping that Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem makes it through the league next year to move on to Israel’s top flight – Liga Ha’ Al.

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