UEFA Foundation for Children supports Spirit of Soccer in Iraq

Football programme launched to educate children about the danger of landmines

The UEFA Foundation for Children is supporting the Spirit of Soccer project in Iraq, using a programme that emphasises the power of football to educate children about the dangers of landmines and explosive remnants of war. The project includes mine risk education, raising awareness of the danger and promoting behavioural changes.

The humanitarian consequences of violence in Iraq and Syria have been catastrophic. More than 2.2 million Iraqis – half of whom are children under the age of 18 – have been displaced, and are forced to live in camps without any formal education or social structures. One day, they will return home to regions polluted by the legacy of conflict, where landmines, unexploded weapons and ammunition, and improvised explosive devices will be a constant and deadly threat.

The funding provided by the UEFA Foundation for Children will support the training of 150 new football coaches, who will be taught how to deliver mine risk education to over 25,000 Iraqi, Kurdish and Syrian children in 2016.

“Some of these children have experienced violence and trauma, often on a daily basis,” said Spirit of Soccer founder and CEO Scott Lee. “Football can do so much; whether it is giving them skills that could help them survive the war, or just giving them a reason to smile. When you play football, you live in the moment. If we can provide these children with a moment of peace, this will truly be a precious gift.”

José Manuel Durão Barroso, chairman of the UEFA Foundation for Children’s board of trustees, said: “The UEFA Foundation for Children places the well-being of children at the heart of its activities, especially vulnerable children who are suffering as a result of conflict. Given the dangers posed by landmines and other legacies of such conflict, it is absolutely crucial that young people are made fully aware. We applaud and fully support the Spirit of Soccer project on this vital education initiative, and we are very happy that football is once again being deployed as a source of happiness and hope.”

Note to editors:

Spirit of Soccer is an international non-profit organisation that uses the world’s most popular sport to empower and educate young people about the dangers of landmines and unexploded weapons in areas of past or ongoing conflict: http://spiritofsoccer.org/