by Yara Rodrigues-Fowler
Arsenal legends from Martin Keown to Freddie Ljungberg are helping us to transform the lives of children in Jordan and Somalia.
On Saturday 3 September, they’ll reunite to play a very special Legends Match against Milan Glorie – a legends team from AC Milan.
Money from ticket sales and raised at the match will go to The Arsenal Foundation, which will donate £500,000 to help us build seven football pitches in camps for refugees and those forced to flee their homes.
We’ve been teaming up with Arsenal for 5 years now, using the power of football to give children space to play – and the chance to just be children.
The chance to be children
We’ll be building five pitches in Jordan, where millions of people have fled their homes because of the brutal war in Syria.
Here, many children live in crowded refugee camps like Za’atari, which is home to 80,000 people.
We’ll build another two in Somalia, where more than a million people are living in camps after being forced by fighting in the country. Most of them are women and children.
Whether you’re a kid from North London or war-torn Somalia, knowing that a club like Arsenal is on your side can give you hope, pride and community.
A safe space
These pitches are more than just a space for kids to practice keepie uppies and penalties.
Because as well as training people living in the camps to run football coaching sessions, we’ll also teach them to recognise and support children who are struggling because of their experiences.
They will be a space where children can build relationships and improve their wellbeing.
Children: forgotten victims
Conflict and violence have forced almost 30 million children in countries around the world to flee their homes.
Children are easily forgotten in this crisis. Especially those who are alone – they are most at risk of abuse, violence and trafficking.
Hamsa, 12, lives in the Digaale Camp in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Digaale is a planned settlement for families who came to Hargeisa following the Somali civil war or who lost their livestock through successive droughts.
Hamsa says, “I like football because it’s my hobby and I have many friends to play with.
Our football pitch is rough with many stones, broken glass, and thorns.
“When we play on this surface we risk hurting our feet on the stones are getting cut on broken glass and getting tetanus.
“I’m an Arsenal fan and my favourite player is Mesut Ozil, who plays midfielder. I really like Ozil because he’s a creative football player and I like the way he plays.”
Transforming lives in Iraq
Together, we’ve already built two football pitches – in refugee camps in Iraq.
When Yasmine and her family were forced to flee their home during the current violence, Yasmine thought they’d be gone for two days. So far they’ve been in the camp two years.
“When the football pitch was built it was such a good day. I love going there because it makes me forget everything and I can just be happy playing with my friends”
Yasmine met hero Alex Scott, Arsenal Ladies Captain, who visited the camp in Iraq earlier this year.
It’s what The Arsenal Foundation is about: inspiring young people through the power of football – and the Arsenal name.
What you can do
Together, Save the Children and the Arsenal Foundation are helping to give hope and rebuild childhoods through the power of football and one of sport’s biggest names.
You too can play your part in transforming the lives of children fleeing war and persecution.
Please support our work with child refugees worldwide:
Some names have been changed to protect identities.