Three years of peace-through-sport activities in Zaatari refugee camp
- 300 children involved in the activities weekly
- 100 girls and women benefited
- 7 Coaches and 1 coordinator
- 10 seminars organized in collaboration with international sport federations since 2017
- International organizations: UNHCR and Blumont
- 3 international sports federations running the program daily: WAKO, ITTF Foundation, FITEQ
- 3 international federation involved by doing seminars and providing equipment: ICU, ITSF, WBSC
- Financial Partners: DCI – Monaco Government
Since 2017, Peace and Sport lead the ‘Live Together’ program in Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan, which gathers more than 77,000 Syrian refugees. In partnership with the UNHCR, Blumont, the Jordanian Olympic Committee, several international federations, and the Government of the Principality of Monaco, Peace and Sport implements sport-based programs that foster physical and emotional well-being of refugees and promote social cohesion, dialogue, and inclusion.
Every week, 300 children practice sport activities with 7 coaches who have been trained by international federations during the first phase of the program. The regular practice of sports helps the children to strengthen their self-confidence, reduce aggression, and increase confidence with members of their community.
As Oday Al-Khozai, Peace and Sport coordinator in the camp, puts it:
“This program proposes physical and psychological support to the children by enhancing self-confidence and developing soft skills for their everyday life. Thanks to the sports activities we provide, the kids can imagine a better future for them and their families.
Using Peace and Sport Methodology, the coaches emphasize the positive values that sport can transmit. They implement daily sports activities with children through sessions structured around a warm-up, technical exercise, matches and cool down. At the end of each session, children express verbally what they have learned and how they have experienced the activities.
For Amir Fadel Aldairi, table tennis coach:
“I have to develop the social skills of children in addition to their athletic and technical Table Tennis skills. The social development of children is summed up by developing some soft skills in the child’s personality such as respect, non-violence, and tolerance to better ‘Live Together’. The Peace and Sport Methodology is a great tool to teach those skills to foster a generation capable of facing future challenges.”
Gender equity is another objective of the ‘Live Together’ program. Since 2019, more than 100 girls have participated in self-defense, table tennis, and cheerleading activities and two female coaches have joined the Peace and Sport coaching team.
For Nasren Almajaresh, kickboxing coach:
“Teaching self-defense to girls and women empower them. It is a great tool to teach them how to defend themselves. My motivation is to ensure that more girls have access to physical education and to break gender stereotypes.”
Over the last three years, Champions for Peace have supported the program through specific events such as the celebration of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. In 2018, international football legend Christian Karembeu, vice world Champion of modern pentathlon Aya Medany and Olympic champion of table tennis Ryu Seung Min led peace-through-sport activities on April 6. For the 2019 edition of April 6, Champion for Peace and kickboxing world Champion Zsolt Moradi shared his inspiring experience with children in a series of kickboxing workshops towards 200 young Syrian refugees. Since then, he has continued nurturing the relationship with the kickboxing coaches and continues sharing his athletic experience and motivating coaches and the young participants through regular workshops.
International Sports Federations are key partners in the success of the program. The World Association of Kickboxing Organizations, International Table Tennis Foundation, and FITEQ are involved in the program daily. They regularly propose seminars to the ‘Live Together’ coaches to improve their skills. Additionally, The Union Cycliste Internationale, International Table Soccer Federation, and the World Baseball Softball Confederation also provides equipment and lead a diversity of seminars.
The Government of Monaco through its international cooperation department has enabled the program to run and enter a new three-year phase starting in 2021. Until then, Peace and Sport and its partners are committed to developing the physical and social skills of the refugees and to help them build their future for a return to their country once pacified.
After the crisis in Syria erupted in March 2011, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees were forced to flee across the border and seek international protection in Jordan. Over 660,000 Syrian refugees are currently registered with UNHCR in Jordan.
Zaatari Camp, close to Jordan’s northern border with Syria has become emblematic of the displacement of Syrians across the Middle East following its establishment in 2012. It is home to 76,108 refugees, nearly 56% of whom are under eighteen years old.