AMMAN — The Asian Football Development Project (AFDP) and Spirit of Soccer (SoS) in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Jordan Football Association (JFA), Arab Mine Action Consultancy Company (AMACC) and Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PMWRA) kicked off this month preparatory workshops for the upcoming Mine Risk Education (MRE) football programme for Syrian refugee children in Northern Jordan, according to a statement from AFDP.

Over the next four months, the collaboration will recruit football activities to promote MRE to 3,500 at-risk children at the Zaatari Refugee Camp and surrounding areas, aiming to reduce the number of child fatalities and injuries that may be caused by landmines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW).

The project will also capitalise on the positive values of mutual respect and coexistence that football represents through football tournaments that bring Jordanian and Syrian communities together on the field.

“We are pleased that the coach training workshops were successful. We look forward to working together with our partners to begin the next phase of the project thereby benefitting all Syrian refugee children in Northern Jordan”, said Prince Ali, FIFA vice president, and founder and chairman of AFDP, was quoted as saying in the statement.

The workshops which kicked-off this month at the Prince Ali Stadium in Al Mafraq are tailored to youth coaches working in schools and local communities. The courses cover the roles of the coaches, characteristics of children and the educational approach, basic football techniques, small-sided games, and organising football festivals and tournaments. The candidate coaches also received basic MRE training including types of mines/ERW found in Syria, likely locations of contaminated areas, conventional and unconventional mine warning signs, and behaviour when encountering mines/ERW.

“The team have made a solid start. There are many challanges facing this type of project. Knowledge, committment, communication and the will-to-succeed will be crucial elements in delivering this programme. Each partner and our graduate coaches have demonstrated these qualities. I’m confident, together, we will deliver a first rate programme for our at-risk children in the Middle East”, said Scotty Lee, founder and director of SoS.

Lou Bergholz, founder of Edgework Consulting also participated in the training course focusing on complimenting the football/MRE programme with a trauma-sensitive training component.

Spirit of Soccer has been promoting MRE messages to at-risk children living in conflict and post conflict zones through soccer activities since 1996. Replicating its successful coaching and MRE module in over 7 countries, this innovative programme has reached approximately 220,000 children providing them with simple clear cut skills to live with the weapons that pose a daily threat in their communities. In each country Spirit of Soccer has played an important role in reducing the casualties caused by mines and ERW to children.

Launched in Jordan 2012, the AFDP is a non-profit youth commission that focuses its need-based support on strengthening and promoting social development through football throughout Asia.