To celebrate World Refugee Day on 20 June, a friendly football event took place involving Jordan’s national Under-15 team and a team from the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. The event was staged at the Al-Hassan football stadium situated a few kilometres from the camp, and followed a football tournament organised at the Za’atari camp from 11 to 15 June.
The activities were organised by the UEFA Foundation for Children, the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP), the UNHCR and the Jordan Football Association (JFA).
The event brought together 25 Jordanian adolescents and 23 Syrian counterparts. The activities were aimed at nurturing interaction and dialogue between young Syrians and Jordanians through football, and promoting, among others, the role of sport and recreational activities in responding to young people’s psychosocial needs.
The event and its message fitted perfectly with the message being promoted by the UNHCR this year – Standing Together.
This year’s World Refugee Day fell during Ramadan, so the meeting took place in the evening after the breaking of the fast. The two teams were able to eat together and mingle during sports games and other life skills activities before they started the football event. Four teams were formed, all featuring a mixture of young Jordanians and Syrians, and two matches of 20 minutes’ duration were staged.
The evening ended with traditional dancing – the debka – improvised by the youngsters. The young Syrians were able to leave the Za’atari camp for the first time since their arrival. Special thanks in this respect must go to Colonel Al-Amoush, head of the Za’atari camp, who made this possible.
The Syrian youngsters were delighted to be able to take part in the event, and created a surprise by all wearing self-created T-shirts bearing the words “Thank you UEFA, AFDP, JFA”. The young Jordanians also made a splendid contribution to what was a memorable event for everyone who took part.