In the middle of the desert in Jordan, a patch of green is like an oasis of hope and freedom especially for the young people living in this dry land of perpetual boredom.
The area is Azraq Refugee Camp, Jordan’s second largest refugee camp and home to approximately 28,000 people escaping conflict and war in Syria. Among them, more than 15,000 boys and girls who’ve left everything they’ve known for a life of uncertainty.
But this patch of green -- a new football pitch built by One Goal, World Vision and the Premier League -- is an investment in the social, psychological and mental well-being of the refugees living here along with sport’s physical benefits. Making sport available to those in the Camp, especially the young people, is one of World Vision’s initiatives in the camp. The refugees fled from terror and bloodshed; sport gives them an outlet to escape (if only for a short time) the unforgettable nightmares they’ve left behind and the perpetual boredom they now experience with life in the middle of the desert. It also encourages exercise, and team activity in the Camp. Boys and girls are playing on the pitches together.
Photo: ©2016 Christopher Lee for World Vision
Football is giving something powerful to the children here: Something to participate in, a way to exert their energy into sport, and a renewed sense of normalcy and happiness. It’s inspiring the children to play, have fun, and dream again.
"If we didn't have these soccer fields and if there was no way to relax we would have left from here a long time ago," said youth footballers Ahmed (age 15) and Mohammed (age 16).
"When I came to this camp I lost my motivation...honestly. When we first came there was no electricity. Even now there is no electricity. You can take a look, you can see how hard it must be. To be honest with you, life is very bad here," Mohammed (age 15).
In the future we want to go back to Syria. Me and Mohammed want to become soccer players." -Ahmed, 15
"I want to become an engineer and rebuild Syria from the ground up." - Mohammed, 16
The Premier League too has made an investment in bringing Sport to the youth here. Coaches from Stoke City Football Club and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC visited in November 2015 to lead a football workshop to start a new youth football league in the Camp.
Young women and men were trained by Premier Skills head coach Jeremy Weeks more recently in April to coach the youth football league.
Photo ©2016 World Vision
While the conflict in Syria rages on, at least children and youth in Azraq Refugee Camp have the power of football as a building block in rebuilding their lives away from home.
U.K mom bloggers Mummy Barrow and Truly, Madly, Kids visited the football pitches in Azraq Refugee Camp. Read their posts:
- Mummy Barrow: Ahmed and Mohammed
- Truly, Madly, Kids: Playing football in the desert: Azraq Refugee Camp
May is the month of action for Sport for Development by One Goal and partners. Join us all month long by following our weekly themes, engaging in important conversation online, participating in sport and advocating for sports access, organization of grassroots sporting activities, and child health for all.
Follow One Goal on Facebook.com/OneGoal and @OneGoalMovement on Twitter from 1-31 May for stories, photo, video and opportunities to make a difference for the next generation through Sport.
Read more posts from the month of action for Sport for Development from One Goal:
- Why investing in Sport pays off
- Football gets boys and girls in the game in Nepal
- 3 programmes changing the game for kids
- Sport for Development in 5 videos
- How much do you know about Sport for Development? 7 tips
- Kicking off a month of action for Sport for Development