1 August 2017

‘Playing for a Common Future: Dialogue Through Football’ is a two year programme initiated by streetfootballworld together with the ‘Asian Football Development Project’ (AFDP) and the ‘Cross Cultures Project Association’ (CCPA) to support refugees and foster social cohesion in Jordan. 

 

Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in March 2011, more than 11 million people – roughly half of the pre-crisis population – have fled their homes, according to United Nations statistics. Almost five million have found shelter beyond the borders of their country, most of them seeking refuge in neighbouring states. In Jordan alone 650,000 displaced Syrian nationals were registered by UNHCR. Here, the majority of Syrians lives in urban regions, the Northern provinces, in Amman and its urban sprawl. The large number of refugees entering Jordan, a country with a population of only around 8 million, has posed an immense strain to economic, educational, infra- and social structures. The resulting tensions have hit disadvantaged groups like children, youth and young women particularly hard.

 

To promote social cohesion, peaceful relations and trauma relief it is necessary to create an environment in which the most fundamental human rights are granted. This is where sport – and football, in particular – can serve as an effective tool to positively transform the roles of young refugees in society, offer them fresh perspectives and pave their way to an independent future.

 

streetfootballworld and two local implementing partners joined forces in 2014 and continue to employ efforts that are fostering the medium- and long-term resilience of refugee children and youth through football, working in refugee host communities and camps. ‘Playing for a Common Future: Dialogue Through Football’ follows in the footsteps of the ‘Kick for Hope 2014’ programme, instigated with Asian Football Development Project (AFDP)  and Cross Cultures Project Association (CCPA), aims to contribute to peace-building, conflict-solving and the life skills of the inhabitants of Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp.

 

In FOOTBALL4GOOD magazine’s January 2017 issue, we reported on our visit to Za’atari, during which we were happy to learn that a football league had mushroomed since the project’s initiation to span all of the camp’s 12 districts and had improved gender relations with the inclusion of numerous girls and women. Back then, it was our hope to engage further with local NGOs to expand the project to Azraq, the second largest camp after Za’atari. In the second half of 2016, the population of Azraq increased by almost 20,000, with more people arriving daily. To date the camp hardly offers any programmes for children and youth. 

 

BUILDING PEACE ON AND OFF THE PITCH

 

With the kick off of ‘Playing for a Common Future’ in June 2017, this is set to change. Together with local partners, regional priorities have been developed to implement programmes in Azraq refugee camp but also in 72 host communities spread across five regions. Over a two-year period – until May 2019 – 16,610 Syrian, Iraqi and Jordanian children and youths between the ages of 6 and 17 will be reached through activities in Azraq refugee camp, in communities neighbouring Amman, as well as in rural communities and urban centres in the north of the country. The overriding goal: to build peace on and off the pitch.

 

As in 2014, streetfootballworld has teamed up with AFDP, which will work exclusively in Azraq camp, and CCPA, set to focus on host communities across the country. With the support of the German Development Ministry (BMZ) youth and children affected by trauma will participate in life and leadership training sessions and be taught skills in peace-promotion, cultural understanding, gender equality and how to deal with trauma.

 

They will be able to engage in facilitated dialogue conducted in safe spaces, allowing participants to embark on a healing process while distancing themselves, at least for a while, from their everyday struggles and the memory of traumatic experiences. Specific learning methods will be employed to help these young people overcome trauma and to teach them how to identify destructive patterns of behavior. The activities will connect participants beyond the project’s scope through shared play and laughter and in overcoming similar challenges. By means of this project, young people will be empowered and inspired to become leaders, value respect and peaceful dialogue and to strive for a better education.

 

PEER-TO-PEER LEARNING

 

Fundamental to the methodology of the project will be the involvement of youth leaders. With the conflict-solving and dialogue-promoting football3 method, 610 young coaches between the ages of 18 and 30 will be trained as volunteer peace leaders. They, along with their peers, will work hand-in-hand with the project coordinators to plan, develop, and implement impactful youth-oriented programmes.

 

FOCUS ON GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN

 

For girls and young women to be able to participate, “cultural issues must be taken into consideration,” explains Carine N’Koue, Project Coordinator for AFDP: “female instructors will be employed and the places where they play will be separated and covered from view. The scheduled time of training sessions will also be taken into consideration, Carine adds, as “they will need to walk back home and could not do so at the end of the day.” To date, such facilities do not exist in Azraq or in most host communities.

 

SAFE ZONES

 

Developing safe zones will increase the social impact of the project in the communities by strengthening the programmes through providing infrastructure and a base from which to deliver these programmes for both boys and girls. This will take place in cooperation with partners such as AFDP and the Football Association (JFA).

 

Project Coordinator Carine N’Koue looks forward to following the progress and effects along the two-year trajectory of the programme that will “engage children and young Syrians – boys and girls – in an appropriate, safe and supervised environment” and – in addition to teaching them football skills and the values associated with the sport of respect, fair play, team spirit and solidarity, the programme will also offer them a place “where they can remain children and have some fun.” 

 

This article appeared in FOOTBALL4GOOD Magazine Issue 3/2017. Read more here