ICMC’s partnership with Right to Play promotes respect, teamwork and leadership in Mafraq

Mafraq, 10 August 2017 - After valiant efforts from all involved, after many free kicks, missed shots and scored goals, more than one hundred Jordanian and Syrian boys stand in line for the pinnacle of the day, the awards ceremony. Medals and trophies for each team, regardless of outcome, mean everyone goes home a winner.

Refugee children participating in the week-long summer camp.Refugee children participating in the week-long summer camp. Photo: ICMC/ N. Banks ICMC and Right to Play Jordan partnered together to provide a week-long summer camp for youth, which included awareness raising sessions on key issues facing young people. These were followed by a football tournament, to boost the confidence and motivation to be physically active. It was happily reported by Hussein, 10, that he liked best both the workshops on children’s rights and child labor, as well as the high-energy football tournament. All of this was done while promoting ideals of peace, teamwork, and friendship.

“These kids have limited opportunities to play; boredom and frustration are not far away. Our idea was simply to use the power of football to promote health, friendship and most importantly to let the kids have fun,” affirms Right to Play’s Hanaa Khaldi. For these children who have faced so much conflict, violence, intolerance and anger, it was refreshing for them to experience the positive effects of both learning and playing.

Today things are looking up for Hussein*, who laments the lack of green space in Mafraq, compared to his home in Homs, Syria.

Another aim of the event was to promote integration between Syrian refugees and their Jordanian host communities. Football is known all over the world and requires little equipment. Anyone can play, showing it really is a global game. Each child receives an award to ensure participation is placed above athletic ability.

“It was great to see the kids show such passion. In football, being Jordanian or Syrian, or any other nationality, doesn’t matter. All that matters is the game. They make friends with each other outside of play,” Hanaa adds.

“Football is my favorite game and I like having somewhere to play with my friends,” Hussein says, confirming that the program is less about football, and more about giving these children a place to be themselves.

*Beneficiaries' names have been changed to protect their identity.