Sport for Change: football as a chance for Aleppo’s youth

The video testimony of Alexander, one of the 278 Syrian youth supported by Fondazione Milan through the Sport for Change project and the first results of the initiative

fondazione milan progetto sport for change
Countries Syria
Date 13.05.2024

Facing the devastation of an earthquake, being constantly threatened by civil war and living in a climate of uncertainty: these are the challenges faced by Alexander Farah, a 15-year-old Syrian teen-ager involved in the “Sport for Change” project funded by Fondazione Milan and implemented by AVSI in Syria, in Aleppo, thanks to the collaboration with the local partner Pro Terra Sancta (PTS) and Fondazione Milan, a public charity linked to the wider scope of AC Milan’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability.

Thanks to Sport, Alexander and 277 other young people have the opportunity to find themselves and experience moments of great happiness.

From Aleppo, Alexander's testimony “Playing soccer means catching a breath from worries”

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Sport for Change, doubled the number of participants to accommodate all applications

The intervention aims to involve young Syrians aged between 7 and 17 in football training, offering a diversion from the difficulties of daily life caused by the complex Syrian geopolitical context and the still tangible consequences of the earthquake that a year ago hit the north of the country, generating a lack of primary services and community centers for young people.

The registration for the program was launched in October on the social pages of the associations involved. The response immediately surprised the staff: 280 applications compared to the 150 places initially expected. Such large numbers pushed the AVSI and PTS to extend the capacity of participants so as not to have to exclude anyone.

At the moment, 278 children are enrolled in the courses and divided into three levels, beginner, intermediate, and advanced, based on previous personal skills. A qualified team of six coaches, recruited and trained by the partner PTS, teaches the 278 beneficiaries. The courses happen every week in the sports fields in the Furqan area, in the heart of Aleppo, and will last until the end of August 2024. To allow participants who live in the peripheral neighborhood of the city to reach the course, the local partner has provided a transport service that accompanies the kids from their homes to the training, thus breaking down any possible logistical barrier.

During February, the distribution of sports materials, including balls, dummies, speed ladders, and rebounding nets, to be used during the project, was completed. The initiative aims also to ensure the psychosocial well-being of its participants. For this reason, throughout the activities, AVSI staff administers some questionnaires to understand the children's emotional state, and monitor and evaluate their possible improvements.