Cooperation in practice Jordan and Iraq: Fostering social cohesion

The cooperation under the heading of “Sport for development in Iraq and Jordan” helps forge closer ties between refugees and local people. With German support, local organisations offer sports activities for refugees, displaced persons and local people aged 8 to 24. These activities give the young sportsmen and women the chance to experience things they have often not been able to enjoy owing to war and displacement: respect, fairness, self-confidence and the feeling of being part of a group. Their physical and mental wellbeing also improves.

Syrian girls playing football in a refugee camp in Jordan.
Syrian girls playing football in a refugee camp in Jordan

Playing sports together can be a way to build bridges: children and young people from all the different population groups get to know and to understand one another, they make friends, gain hope, develop confidence and see new prospects. All of this helps prevent conflict and violence.

Training the trainers

As part of the project, local social workers, teachers and trainers are learning how to teach social skills and values through sport.

Disadvantaged youth and young people who have disabilities are also included. Girls and young women are encouraged to take up sports activities. In a region where, by tradition, such activities are rarely open for girls, it can be a way to empower them.

Fostering personal development in young people

The project has given Maryana Haddad, from the Jordanian women's national football team, the chance to train to become a football coach. These days she is teaching others: “The programme is unique in Jordan. It links football training provided by a qualified trainer with measures to explicitly foster the personal development of young people. I really enjoy working with the children and coaching them in their development, regardless of nationality, age or gender. I grow, too, through my work as a trainer and I try to be a role model for the kids – on and off the pitch.”

Results to date

The Jordanian provinces of Amman, Irbid, Mafraq and Zarqa are home to a particularly high number of refugees. The programme supported by German development cooperation offers them a range of sports activities at more than 60 schools and 40 other sports facilities. These measures are benefiting more than 61,000 children and young people there.

In northern Iraq, in the districts of Dohuk town, Saxo and Sumel, some 65,000 children and young people can benefit from sports activities that are on offer in six refugee camps and in two youth centres.

In order to ensure that the project can provide psychosocial support and help prevent violence and resolve conflicts in the long term, more than 300 teachers and trainers will receive special training. Nearly half of the participants are women.