Football gives boys a chance to succeed, both on and off the field

24 July 2012

9 July 2012
Jenin, West Bank

There is no lack of diverse opinions in the West Bank on a range of issues, and nowhere is that more evident than in football. It would be difficult to find a Palestinian without a favourite team and player, and that enthusiasm for the sport is apparent even among the younger generations.

Hoping to tap into this passion for football in the West Bank, UNRWA launched “Kick the Ball and Take Care”, an education project that uses sport as an entry point for teaching young Palestine refugees valuable life skills. Funded by the German government, the project has already reached 80 boys between the ages of 13 to 16.

Football teaches discipline and teamwork

The boys meet every Saturday for an intensive two-hour training session with physical education professionals. More than just a football game, the workshops teach both the practical and theoretical aspects of football. As they learn how the game is best played, the students learn to appreciate the importance of discipline and teamwork in achieving their goals.

“The Saturday sessions have lifted my spirits”, said A’amar, a 15-year-old refugee who participated in the session. He now competes with the team for UNRWA’s Yabed Basic School for Boys in Jenin, playing at both a district and national level. “The project gave me a chance to represent my school in football, so for that I am grateful.”

Training improved performance on and off the field

The students who participate in the project are selected from UNRWA schools based on their academic achievement, attendance, and general enthusiasm for football. The benefits of the project go beyond the pitch: the academic performance of the boys improved further as the project continued, demonstrating the value of these skills both on and off the field.

Professional staff from the Palestinian Counselling Centre have also offered their services to the project, allowing the boys to express their fears and frustrations in an informal environment – a much-needed service for children surviving conflict and occupation, that would otherwise be out of reach for many of them.

For more about UNRWA’s programmes in the West Bank, click here.

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