Young refugees inspired

Zurich, Aug 26, 2016: Fleeing the horrors of the war in Syria, they were welcomed by Jordan and lived in purpose-built camps in the Al Mafraq region. There, they nourished hopes of being able to return to their homeland and their lives, thinking the war would not last long. But days, months and years rolled by, and those displaced Syrians became long-term refugees.

Tens of thousands of Syrians now live in the Al Zaatari camp, housed in makeshift residences built in close proximity. They have access to the most basic services and their situation has improved over time, but the forlorn expressions on the faces of young and old alike speak volumes.

“We came to the Al Zaatari camp to send a message via football, which belongs to everyone without exception,” said Honey Thaljieh, FIFA’s representative. “Of course football cannot resolve conflicts and wars, but it can give hope to refugees who have fled war. Any person who leaves their country in such circumstances has to be able to live with dignity.

These young Syrian girls are today showing the world that they deserve to live with dignity and that they can integrate in other societies. They may be young, but they have big dreams, and that is the message we want to give them on their way: dare to dream. We have to thank football and the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup trophy, which has given these young girls their smile back.”

“Football gives me self-confidence and fits in with my way of thinking,” explained Shayma Al-Natour, a young Syrian aged 13 who left the town of Daraa with her family. “I started playing football when I was ten, playing with boys out in the street. I enjoyed the sport and I played in every different position before deciding to be a goalkeeper, because I think the No1 is the basis of the team and prevents it from losing.

“I want to say to all the exiled Syrians that even though we are in refugee camps, we deserve to live,” she added. “For me, football is an important part of life because it allows you to express yourself and let out your feelings. It helps us to forget our troubles for a few hours every day.”

The trophy will be travelling across the country to raise local awareness of the tournament, which is set to be the biggest sporting event ever held in the kingdom. —- FIFA

Read the full story and watch the video on in English and Arabic

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