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> Rimon Najib Salim Zabaneh, sports leader
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Known as the initiator of new sports programmes and activities during the golden era of sports at the East Jerusalem YMCA (1969-1986), Rimon Najib Salim Zabaneh (Abu Tareq) was a hard worker, a committed sports master, and an educator. He left his mark - his spirit, his attitude, and his good will - on all the schools and institutions that benefited from his presence as teacher and coach as well as on his students, sports colleagues, and friends.
Abu Tareq was born in Jaffa in 1936, and attended the Ramla Elementary School until 1948, when he became a refugee in Ramallah. In 1955 he graduated from the Ramallah Secondary School. He is married and has two sons, Tareq and Firas, and a daughter Hilda.
In 1953 he played football for the Social Sports Club in Al Bireh and was later sent by the Jordanian Government to continue his higher education in Egypt at the Abukir College in Alexandria, where he graduated in 1958. He was then appointed physical education teacher at the Beit Hanina Teachers College where he stayed until 1967. He continued teaching sports at various government schools until his retirement in 2005.
In 1961 Abu Tareq made the headlines by becoming the first Palestinian international basketball referee when he refereed at the Third Arab Sports Championships in Morocco as part of the Jordanian sports delegation. In 1965 and 1966 he went with the Jordanian sports delegation to the Arab Sports Championships as a basketball coach and referee.
Abu Tareq also worked as part-time physical education instructor at St. George’s School in Jerusalem from 1963 to 1979, and as sports supervisor at the YMCA until 1967, where he became the physical director in 1968. During that same year, he was sent by the YMCA for four months of specialised training at YMCAs in the United States.
Abu Tareq contributed immensely to the golden era of sports as he trained numerous young sports leaders and was instrumental in recruiting and supporting young talent. He also initiated innovative physical fitness programmes for businessmen and families. Not allowing himself to be confined to Jerusalem, he coordinated the leadership and sports training at the YMCA in Beit Sahour and supported the sports and youth activities at the YMCA in Ramallah.
After being closed for a number of years due to financial difficulties, the YMCA sports department came to life again in 1996 when Abu Tareq returned as director until his retirement in 2005.
On the national level Abu Tareq was an active member of the Palestinian Sports League Committee in the West Bank. He represented the YMCA and cooperated with other Palestinian sports leaders to reactivate national sports activities and develop the managerial structure of sports in the West Bank.
Palestinian sports enthusiasts will always connect the good old golden days of sports at the East Jerusalem YMCA with Abu Tareq, Ustaz Rimon.
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