Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende inaugurated today the Norway Football Field for Girls at the Za’atari Syrian refugee camp in Northern Jordan during his one day visit to the Kingdom.
Foreign Minister Brende also checked on progress of the second Norway Football Field in Za’atari that is set to be complete next month.
The Norway Football Fields and the Norway Football Fields for Girls encompasses the Government of Norway’s support for Syrian children and youth, which represent more than 50 percent of the refugee population hosted at the UNHCR run camp in Za’atari.
The opening ceremony included football activities for young Syrian girls as well as Syrian coaches residing in Za’atari trained by Jordanian and European coaches.
The Government of Norway recognizes that the rehabilitation and caretaking of Syrian children and youth at risk is integral to addressing the Syrian refugee crisis.
The world’s most popular sport, football plays a key role to help Syrian children cope with the hardship of displacement and instability.
As members of the Human Security Network, both Norway and Jordan share common values and goals concerning the safety of children in armed conflict and the security of individuals threatened by war and conflict.
Addressing the young Syrian girls at the football field, Foreign Minister Brende said; “this football field cannot remove the hardship you are going through. But I hope it could give encouragement at a personal and a community level.”
“I believe that football, through its universality, its ability to make us cooperate and overcome barriers, and its accessibility to girls and boys from all backgrounds can connect us and teach us how to best cooperate to achieve our goals,” he noted.
The Za’atari football fields comprise two of the eight football fields the Government of Norway is supporting throughout Northern Jordan, where the majority of Syrian refugees are currently hosted. The other football fields, currently under construction or renovation include two in Azraq, one in Ramtha, two in Mafraq schools (one for boys and one girls) and one in Al Sareeh sport club.
“I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the Norwegian Football Association and Mr. Per Ravn Omdal; the Jordan Football Association and His Royal Highness Prince Ali bin Hussein; and everyone else who has contributed to making this project possible,” added Foreign Minister Brende.
The Norway Football Fields project is led by the Football Association of Norway (NFF), in cooperation with the Jordan Football Association (JFA) and the Amman based NGO; the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP).
“Through our partnerships in Jordan with JFA, AFDP and other NGOs working in the field, the NFF will not only provide football activities for Syrian children, but also train Syrian coaches; both men and women,” commented Mr. Per Ravn Omdal , Project Manager of the Norway Football Fields and Honorary President of the Football Association of Norway.
“Progress is underway in the six Norway Football Fields we are supporting. We expect that all projects will be complete by March 15th 2014, as agreed with our partners, which also includes the Jordan Ministry of Education,” Mr. Omdal added.
Commenting on the Norway Football Fields project, HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, President of the Jordan Football Association, founder and chairman of the Asian Football Development Project expressed Jordan’s appreciation for Norway’s support.
“We are very grateful to our colleagues and friends from Norway for their generous support in building and restoring football pitches in Northern Jordan. We enjoy a vibrant partnership with the Football Association of Norway and we look forward to more cooperation in the future, in the best interest of our young boys and girls,” said Prince Ali.
“Football is indeed a powerful medium to bring people together. It has certainly helped raise hope for children in Za’atari,” he added.
Representing HRH Prince Ali were Dr. Fayez Abu Arida from JFA and Ms. Merissa Khurma of AFDP. The launch was also attended by UNHCR representative Andrew Harper, Za’atari camp manager Kilian Kleinschmidt as well as representatives of International Relief and Development (IRD) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).