On International Peace Day, Qatar 2022 and UNRWA use football to inspire social change
The Qatar 2022 Bid Committee, in partnership with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), inaugurated a brand new football pitch, built to FIFA standards and specifications, today in Yarmouk Camp in Damascus, home to the largest Palestinian refugee population in Syria.
The project is part of Qatar 2022’s 'Generation Amazing’ football and social development initiative. Targeting schools and communities in developing countries, the initiative aims to improve the quality of life of underprivileged youth through the power of football. The bid committee engaged in projects with partners in Pakistan, Nepal, Lebanon and Syria. Focusing on football infrastructure development and leadership programmes for coaches, teachers and students, the initiative hopes to cultivate a new generation of leaders and sustainable sport and social development.
In Syria, the newly renovated pitch is designed to provide a quality, usable sports facility for children who at present have little or no opportunity to participate in athletic activity. Its specifications make it available for use 24 hours a day, while previous facilities could only be used for a maximum of six hours per week.
Qatar 2022 and UNRWA chose 'International Peace Day’ (21 September), as recognised by all 192 UN member states, for the inauguration of the pitch, in order to highlight the objectives of the programme and its alignment with global efforts toward peace and inclusivity. Qatar 2022 and UNRWA worked closely with the team at 'Peace One Day’ – the organisation behind the establishment of 'Peace Day’ – to ensure success of the event and maximum exposure for Peace Day. The opening of the pitch is just one of various events held to celebrate this international day of peace throughout the world.
Speaking at the event, Nasser Al Khater, the Communications Director of the Qatar 2022 Bid, said that the new pitch would guarantee that generations of children would have a place to play football and learn new skills through sport. “This represents in some ways the culmination of our programme at Yarmouk Camp, but I am confident that this pitch – and the 30,000 plus people that we expect will eventually use it – will lead to a lasting sense of community and improved standards of living. Through football and community co-operation, we can all achieve great things, and today is an example of this.”
The main attraction at the event was a friendly match held between the best two teams resulting from a football tournament held previously in the camp under the auspices of Qatar 2022 through the 'Generation Amazing’ project. The teams included Hani Hweileh and Mahmoud Meri’, two of the Youth Ambassadors who were selected by Qatar 2022 and UNRWA to accompany the Qatar 2022 delegation to the FIFA World Cup in South Africa in June. Hazar Al Tarifi, the third Youth Ambassador, was also present at the event and delivered a special thank you speech.
Hani, Mahmoud and Hazar, and each of the Youth Ambassadors in the four target countries, implemented social projects with the aim of giving back to their communities – an important part of the 'Generation Amazing’ concept.
Roger Hearn, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria said: “Our immense thanks go to Qatar for this generous contribution that comes at a crucial time for UNRWA’s work with Palestinian refugees. The impact and success of our work depends on our partners and this project is one of many which will improve the lives of young Palestinian refugees living in camps in Syria.”
Director General of the General Authority of Palestinian Arab Refugees, Ali Mustapha, also expressed his appreciation to the people of Qatar: “This initiative not only furthers the individual development of our children but gives them the space to play and learn new life and sporting skills.”
In reflecting on the event and the goals of the project, Al Khater described the Syria initiative as an important project for Qatar 2022 and the communities that the programme is designed to reach. “Our aim when launching the project was to create a lasting international legacy of social development through the power of football. Qatar is at the forefront of social initiatives and we are committed to the basic philosophy that sport can be used as a means of improving peoples’ lives. We believe that 'Generation Amazing’ has succeeded in achieving this in all four countries and will continue to do so long into the future.”
For further information please contact:
UNRWA Public Information Officer – Damascus
+963 (0)940 888103
Qatar 2022 Media