Fostering relationships between refugee and host community youth in northern Governorates
16 December 2015, Amman– UN Women Jordan in partnership with the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP) and Search for Common Ground (SFCG), is holding a series of community football activities tailored toward girls in the Kingdom. The project aims to bring Syrian refugees and Jordanian host communities together while also empowering girls and further developing their skills for peaceful conflict resolution through physical education and football.
The collaboration, entitled ‘Empowering Girls while Building Social Cohesion through Physical Education and Sports Programming: Bringing Together Syrian and Jordanian Youth’, will consist of a series of trainings for coaches, exciting football camps and tournaments and community activities.
With support from AFDPs official partner PepsiCo and the Ministry of Education, football coaches and physical education teachers will be trained to use football and fun to promote healthy conflict resolution among their students. Throughout the 12-month collaboration, these methods will be employed during a series of engaging three-day football camps and one-day football tournaments to be carried out in the northern cities of Mafraq, Irbid and Ramtha, providing safe spaces for Syrians and Jordanian youth to interact. These cities will also host small community projects, to be designed and developed by pairs of Syrian and Jordanian girls, further promoting trust-building and cross-cultural understanding. At the close of the project, the Jordan Football Association (JFA) and AFDP will organize three final football tournaments, bringing participants of each of the camps together to mark its successful conclusion.
“An athletic woman is an empowered woman even outside of sports, she works to improve her own life and the lives of those around her, she is a role model who challenges gender stereotypes and inspires leadership and teamwork. Those qualities are particularly necessary when building resilience and restoring hope in refugee communities,” noted Founder and Chairman of AFDP HRH Prince Ali Bin Hussein; who has cemented womens empowerment as one of the key pillars of the organization.
This initiative falls under UN Women Jordan’s ongoing commitment to address the needs of Jordanian host communities and Syrian refugees within the framework of the ‘Eid bi Eid’ program, funded by the governments of Finland and Italy. Focusing on the Governorates of Mafraq, Irbid and Zarqa, UN Women promotes livelihoods, employment opportunities and protection referral services as entry points for building community engagement and trust.
“Every time these young women and girls kick the ball, they do so not only to play with their friends but to score a bigger goal – to show their right to access public space, to play like their male peers and to demonstrate to themselves, their families, their communities and to Jordan that they are an equal player in building a more prosperous future for their country,” noted Mr. Giuseppe Belsito, UN Women Jordan Representative.
The activities will be launched as Jordan gears up to host the 2016 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup, the largest sporting event in the history of the Kingdom. Working towards establishing a lasting legacy for football in the country and to grow the women’s game, the tournament’s Local Organising Committee (LOC) strives to bring relevant parties together in order to host such events that will encourage more girls to take up the sport.
“Football is a unifying sport with a long history of bridging cultural divides within and between communities,” said LOC CEO, Samar Nassar. “As we prepare for Jordan to take center stage as the host of the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup next year, we strive to build lasting and effective partnerships with the private and public sectors, bringing relevant parties together to grow women’s football and to create a lasting legacy for the sport in the Kingdom. It is time for Jordanian women’s football to receive the attention that it deserves, so it may come into its own and achieve success on the international level.”
“When combined with a set of cooperative win-win principles that help people to understand their differences and find shared interests – what we call our Common Ground Approach – youth sports programs such as these play an important role in strengthening the social fabric of communities in Jordan,” said SFCG Regional Director, Abou El Mahassine Fassi-Fihri.
The AFDP, with support from PepsiCo and various dedicated organizations such as streetfootballworld, has been running regular football programs for girls at the Zaatari Camp and surrounding refugee-host communities since 2012, in addition to a recently launched initiative at the camp of Azraq, with the purpose of facilitating integration and instilling a sense of normalcy amongst the young refugees. The AFDP also continues to work closely with the