Location and general information
The crisis in Syria began more than 10 years ago and represents the most challenging humanitarian situation of the century anywhere in the world. According to the UNHCR and the Turkish government, Türkiye hosts 3.69 million Syrian refugees.
Syrian migration to Türkiye began in 2011 and continued to increase exponentially until the summer of 2015. The Turkish authorities adopted an ‘open door’ policy, constructed camps in the southern provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, and Şanlıurfa, and referred to Syrian refugees as ‘guests’.
An average of over 20,000 refugees arrived in Türkiye every month in 2012 as a result of the conflict in Syria; this increased to nearly 40,000 per month in 2013 and some 55,000 per month in 2014. The chart below shows how the number of Syrian refugees in Türkiye has grown since 2011.
Refugees and affected host community members are becoming increasingly vulnerable owing to large-scale protracted displacement, macroeconomic forecasts, the socioeconomic conditions, the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and demographic pressures. These interlinked factors exacerbate existing issues within communities, such as gender inequality and discrimination against refugees.
The city of Şanlıurfa hosts about 430,000 Syrian refugees, of which 70.9% are women and children, and ranks as the fourth city in Türkiye by the number of refugees. The city’s sports infrastructure capacity is low compared to the number of children, which means that many children miss out on opportunities to take part in sports in safe environments such as their schools or local sports centres. As a result, they end up finding ways to play sports in non-protected environments without any guidance or supervision. This comes with many hazards, including discrimination against refugee children, psychological distress, exploitation and abuse, the development of bad habits and even dropping out of school – which in turn can lead to other dangers such as child labour and child marriage.
The project’s main aim is to use football, and sports in general, as a tool for promoting the peaceful coexistence of children from different communities. It does this by providing Turkish and Syrian children with regular access to sports facilities; establishing opportunities for the integration of Turkish and Syrian children – particularly girls and children with special needs – through sports; encouraging schools and physical education teachers to adopt a football3 mindset; and enhancing children’s life skills such as leadership and conflict resolution skills.
1. Establishing one A-5 mini-pitch (50m x 30m) and all related facilities, including toilets, showers, changing rooms, an office, a warehouse and lighting fixtures.
2. Training five coaches and 50 youth volunteers to teach children football skills and raise awareness of gender inequality, child protection, human rights, health, education and social cohesion.
3. Distributing 75 sports kits containing balls, ball bags, t-shirts, mobile goals, vests, etc. to sports centres in three municipalities of Şanlıurfa.
4. Setting up girls and boys football teams for children aged between 7 and 16 years old, ensuring that each team of 11 contains a mix of Syrian refugees and members of the host community.
5. Delivering football training and awareness-raising sessions to the participating 500 children.
6. Organising 150 matches supervised by coaches and youth volunteers in accordance with the football3 method.
7. Nominating members of the most successful teams to compete for national team selection, especially for the national women’s youth teams.