For five days the football pitch in Aqaba became a special place of social inclusion and integration, welcoming 25 young coaches, 50 children and their families, all of them of Jordan or Syrian nationality.
From July 25 to July 29, they were involved in many educational and recreational activities revolving around football and aimed at creating closer bonds within the community, that were carried out with the collaboration of the Italian Footballers' Association (AIC) under the Mujtamai Amani project, funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) and implemented in partnership with Terre des Hommes.
The 25 aspiring coaches were selected among vulnerable Jordanians and Syrians in five different locations in Jordan - Aqaba, Qweirah, Zarqa, Russeifa and Mafraq - on the basis of their ability and interest in becoming youth coaches. Their task will be organizing sports activities for kids in every area of intervention. Throughout the week, they could count on the support and teachings provided by the coaches of the Junior Department at AIC, who alternated training sessions in class and on the field.
“Our philosophy goes well beyond winning or losing. The most important thing for us is to develop the skills and talents of everyone involved. A team is the result of a long process of growth and the victory is not the goal of the game itself," explains an AIC coach.
The future youth coaches had the opportunity to learn many useful things, related not only to the technical aspects of the game, but also to the psychosocial development of the kids. Furthermore, they reflected and debated on the role that communication plays in the interaction with children. They underlined the importance of establishing a healthy and trustworthy relationship with the children, as they must feel free to be themselves without being afraid to be judged. In addition, the AIC and aspiring youth coaches prepared together several games to later share with the children on the field.
The children, on the other hand, had the chance to spend time with their families and peers, playing together and learning the fundamentals of football through educational games. These activities were aimed at strengthening both their physical and social skills.
"It was one of the best days of my life. It is very important for us mothers to have beautiful moments with our children, like the ones we had today," says Amal, 31 years old, who participated in one of the activities with her son Houssam. Playing let her rediscover her inner child after a long time.
The project also included an Aqaba city tour for the 25 aspiring youth coaches, who could explore the city and spend some time all together.
In addition, with the support of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), a beach clean-up was carried out at the Al-Ghandour Beach to turn it into a more pleasant and safer place for everyone. At the same time, it aimed at raising the awareness of the beneficiaries and the local community on the importance of keeping public spaces clean and taking care of the environment. The group was not left alone in their endeavour: as soon as other people saw them collecting trash and cleaning up the beach, they asked for gloves and bags in order to join in.