Helping Syrian refugee women and girls kick goals

Be a champion for women and girls

It looks like just a patch of synthetic green grass – but this football pitch is a field of dreams in the midst of a sprawling refugee camp.

It’s an important part of an exciting program investing in the mental health and physical wellbeing of young refugees – and providing leadership opportunities for refugee women.

Standing in the midst of the Jordanian desert, Azraq refugee camp is currently home to over 25,000 Syrian refugees – half of whom are children. While safer than staying in Syria, life in a refugee camp can be dull. It’s a large and desolate place, devoid of stimulating activities for kids who haven’t been to school since they fled the violence in their home country. Often their days consist of being cooped up inside their families’ shelter or wandering the camp. Other families resort to child labour to ease the financial burden, or early marriage – sometimes considered the best way to protect and provide for their daughters. These children have had their normal development disrupted; their rights to education, play and a childhood taken away from them.

Our football program is working to change that. 

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sport pitches

We've built two pitches in Azraq refugee camp - one just for football, and the other multi-purpose to suit basketball and netball too.

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coaches

With support from the English Premier League, we've trained 36 male and female coaches with a four day skills workshop.

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team league

Hundreds of refugee boys and girls living in the camp will now be able to participate in a 32-team football league.

We’ve kicked the program off with a football skills workshop, giving many kids their first ever experience of playing the sport. On the surface it might not seem like much – but programs like this provide a much-needed outlet for refugee kids. The football league is a safe and constructive activity that will allow hundreds of kids to have fun and enjoy their right to play, while also receiving emotional support, building life skills and lowering their risk of exploitation.

The football program is open to both boys and girls – but we’ve taken special care to ensure that girls are able to participate. World Vision has ensured the privacy of the girls by adding plastic sheeting to the fences surrounding the pitches.

Training female coaches has also helped to make parents feel more comfortable about letting their daughters join in the fun, and it has the added benefit of creating positive role models for the girls.

When crisis hits, existing inequalities increase the risks for women and girls and traditional systems to protect the most vulnerable break down.
Learn more about the impact of emergencies on the lives of women and girls

Raja

“It’s beautiful for the girls to play football. I used to enjoy playing football back in Syria.”

Raja is a Syrian refugee, a mother of two and a football coach, trained through World Vision’s program. She’s passionate about her role and the opportunity not just to have fun with the girls – but also to provide them with care and support in a difficult environment.

“I enjoy teaching the girls. I feel like they are my children,” says Raja. Since the program started, she says the girls have started to open up to her and talk about their problems. And she’s seeing how the sport is improving their wellbeing.

Zaynab

10-year-old refugee Zaynab has just found her new favourite hobby – saving goals!

Zaynab is one of hundreds of refugee children who participated in a football skills workshop, where newly trained coaches like Raja could start applying their skills. This was Zaynab’s first experience of playing football.

“I was goal keeper, and I loved it! I made new friends today. I will come and play every day,” says Zaynab.

 

 

 

Ghaliya

Ghaliya lives at Za’atari camp, the other major home for Syrian refugees in Jordan. She’s spent the last two years training as a football coach and supporting a similar program there.

Ghaliya was never allowed to play football as a child – so she understands the challenges that come with creating opportunities for girls to play.

“It’s the first time some of these girls are playing football. I’m delighted to see them having fun. Back in Za’atari, at first parents didn’t want girls to play football, now there are about 2000 girls playing football there,” says Ghaliya.

 

 

The young people living in Azraq Camp have had their lives severely disrupted. Providing them with regular access to fun, high-quality football training and tournaments delivered by properly trained coaches means they will reap the benefits the game has to offer: teamwork, improved confidence and wellbeing. But equally importantly, it will give them a chance to return some much-needed normality to their lives.

Premier League Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore