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Striving for normalcy, Syrians organise university football tournament

By Muath Freij - Jan 06,2019 - Last updated at Jan 06,2019

Syrian university students pose for a photo after their football tournament on Friday (Photo by Muath Freij)

AMMAN — Running, whistling at fouls and goals, Syrian refugee Mohammad Kamal took charge of a football match on Friday that brought with it excitement and jubilation. 

Being surrounded by, and engaging with, football fans and players was not a new experience for the former Wathba footballer. 

However, that weekend’s football match was a special experience for Kamal. 

“It might be the most beautiful activity I have implemented in Jordan because it brought together Syrians for the sake of football and far from politics. It simply revived my beautiful memories of back home,” he told the Jordan Times minutes ahead of a match in Amman. 

Kamal was the referee of a football tournament organised and played by Syrian refugees studying at Jordanian universities. 

A total of 16 teams took part in the contest, which was held at the Yarmouk Club pitches. 

Abdullah Jawad, who was among the organisers and a member of the winning team, said the idea of the tournament was to create an optimistic and positive mindset for Syrians far from home. 

“We wanted to provide Syrians with a nice activity far from the pressures of education and life. There is a lot of pressure from education, so we organised a tournament during weekends to enjoy our time,” he added.

Many Syrian refugees are attached to football, with some of them describing it as their favourite hobby. Displacement however, hindered them from practicing.

“When I first came here we could not practice football, because our main concern was to meet the needs of life first, and the financial situation was very difficult,” Kamal recounted. 

Amer Abu Qaoud, one of the participating footballers, was forced to leave Syria and reside in Jordan for five years due to the instability in Syria, however, football did not leave his thoughts and imagination. 

“We used to play football in Syria when we were children. We had to stop due to the conditions we faced and I decided to move here to continue my studies. Now, I play football with university students weekly,” he said. 

Screaming “Campeone, Campeone, ole ole”, Abu Qaoud and Jawad did not miss the chance to celebrate their team’s victory with their friends and teammates.

It was a symbolic trophy, of course, but it was an achievement that allowed the players feel a sense of normalcy.

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