I got in touch with Palestine and Flota Swinoujscie centre back Omar Jarun and asked him a few questions, heres what he had to say:
Football Palestine: First of all, on behalf of Palestinian football fans everywhere, I’d like to congratulate you on your USL Championship win with the Vancouver Whitecaps and your recent signing with Flota Swinoujscie.
At Dayton University, you played as a forward, what made you switch positions to defense later on in your career?
Omar Jarun: I was a forward my whole career before turning professional. As a youth and through my time at University. When I got drafted in Atlanta, my coach Jason Smith asked me if I had played Center Back before because it was going to be hard to get on the field as a forward. My team needed help at defense. I told him No but I can learn. So it took me 7 games to get a start but ever since then I have not looked back. I still learn the position every day at training and during the games. I enjoy the position and look forward to playing there the rest of my career.
FP: Did you ever consider playing international football before? and how were you approached to represent Palestine internationally?
Omar: I have always wanted to play international football. As a football player this is one of the highest achievements. I always thought I would have to play for the USA. In September of 2007 Majid Hamdan phoned me and asked if I would like to represent Palestine. Without hesitation I said yes. To represent my roots and the great country of Palestine was without a doubt what I wanted to do.
FP: On your national team debut vs Singapore, you weren’t dealt a fair hand with regards to the state of the team(horribly organized training camp). Despite that, observers commented that you played a good solid game. What was it like representing Palestine on the field and what difficulties(if any) did you encounter before and during the match?
Omar: The situation was not good for any of the players or the coach of the team. The team was put together only one week before the match. We had no training together what so ever. There was also lots of trouble for other players on the team to even get into the country of Qatar. It was still a great experience representing Palestine that day. The result was not what we wanted but many players including myself can learn from a game like this. We played like 11 individuals that day. I had some difficulty speaking Arabic to many of the players during the game. That was probably my biggest obstacle.
FP: Who of the national team players did you get most closely acquainted with?
Omar: The one player on the team that I got closest to was Ramsey the goal keeper. As a center back it is important to have a good relationship with your goal keeper. Off the field, he is a great human being. He is kind and very genuine.
FP: The national team defense line has become more competitive with several domestic and foreign-based players vying for starter spots. How do you see your future with the national team?
Omar: The national team should always look to bring in better and better players. This is the only way to have the best possible team. I see myself being a big part of the team in the future. I am only growing as a player and by playing in Europe I will become what Palestine needs as a center back to help lead the team to victories.
FP: Last month you signed a contract with Flota Swinoujscie of the Polish I Liga. This will make you the second Palestine national team player to play in Poland, the first being Alexis Norambuena who plays for Jagiellonia Bialystok. Why did you choose to play in the Polish I Liga instead of continuing in North America and what do you hope to accomplish with Flota?
Omar: I knew I must make a move to Europe for the best possible football. My manager Mr. Karpinski thought Poland would be a good start for me. He gave me the opportunity to come on a trial with Flota and I took the opportunity and ran with it. I am here to accomplish two things. First is to get my team Flota promoted to the top flight of Polish football by the end of the season. And second is to better myself as a player on and off the field.
FP: What is your dream club….the club you aspire to play for one day?
Omar: My dream club to play for one day is Liverpool. I hope to play there one day in my career. By hard work and a little luck I think my dream can come true.
FP: Lastly, what would you like to say to Palestinian football fans?
Omar: To the Palestine People: I would first say that my condolences go out to those who have lost family and friends in the recent attack by Israel. I do not agree with what they have done and I personally think it was very wrong. I would like to tell the fans of Palestinian football that a good team is on the horizon. Big steps are being made to make the national team one that can compete with the best in the world. I myself as a individual am becoming the best possible football player I can. I will be ready for future competition. We will progress as a nation on and off the field!