We’ve partnered with Arsenal, one of the world’s biggest football clubs to help children living in Za’atari refugee camp, Jordan. Our football pitches have provided 35,000 vulnerable children with a safe space to play and learn through the tactics and teamwork of sport.
More than half are children – young minds scarred by brutal fighting, death and the destruction of their homes.
The Arsenal Foundation and Save the Children
But thanks to a new project developed by Save the Children and The Arsenal Foundation, Mohammad and hundreds of other boys and girls have a new way of rebuilding their mental wellbeing – an innovative coaching programme combining football and life skills.
“Playing football is a beautiful feeling,” Mohammad says. “I forget everything when I’m on the pitch.”
Arsenal academy manager and former captain, Per Mertesacker, recently visited Za’atari to launch the programme, which is led by coaches from the club and is also running in the slums of Jakarta, Indonesia.
It teaches children how to explore their emotions, improve their decision-making, develop leadership skills and manage conflict by coping with unfair decisions and showing respect for teammates.
“When children suffer, we all lose,” says Per. “This project will give them courage to cope with the struggles they face every day.”
“Children will be encouraged to visualise their dreams and identify ways to achieve them,” adds Rania Malki, CEO of Save the Children Jordan.
The project, which exists because of supporters like you, has already made one of Mohammad’s dreams come true – meeting a footballing icon like Per.
“My grandfather says the programme has built my self-esteem and confidence,” says Mohammad.
“Football’s not just for boys, it’s equal,” adds 14-year-old Nabila, who lives with her parents and sisters in Za’atari.
“I am so happy we are getting professional support to help us on and off the pitch. I want to be a doctor. I’ve seen bombing, so I want to help people.”
“Every day I have to help my mother with the daily work,” says Mariam, 14. “When I have free time, I play football between the caravans. My personality comes out and I can use one of my rights as a child – the right to play.”