The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) this week inaugurated the first soccer pitch in the Domiz Camp for Syrian Refugees to enable the youth there enjoy their favorite game.
The soccer field which was established in cooperation with the Domiz Camp Administration is funded by the Kuwaiti government and The US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.
Playing soccer and organizing different activities keeps the youth of the camp occupied positively, according to Radouane Belouali, UNFPA chief of operations in Iraq.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Belouali added that the UNFPA is keen to equip the youth in the Camp with all what they need to develop their skills in different fields including sports, arts and music among others.
The inauguration ceremony that was attended by officials from Duhok governorate and the Camp’s administration was also held to mark the conclusion of the first football tournament in the camp that was held with the participation of 12 teams.
In addition to providing a space for youth, setting a soccer field in Domiz camp has other objectives according to Dr Georges M. Georgi, UNFPA Iraq country representative.
“The Soccer Field project aims to create and build “Team spirit” within the 12 football teams formed in Domiz Camp”, said Dr Georgi, adding that the Fund is keen to encourage youth involvement and participation in their communities, and that sports is one of the ways that achieve this goal.
The establishment of the soccer pitch inside the camp was described as a great achievement by members of the teams that took part in the competition, especially the professional footballers.
“Football is my bread and butter,” said Nassar Baker, a former player in one of the first leg clubs in Syria.
Baker, 30, said before the establishment of this soccer field he used, with other footballers from Domiz, to rent one of the football fields in Duhok.
“It was not easy for me and my colleagues to afford the money to pay for the rental of a field in Duhok city,” Baker said, while adding that he is a day laborer and he has to balance between supporting his family with the money he gets and paying money to practice his favorite game.
“No I need not to worry about that,” he explained, “as I can play football at anytime with no cost”.
Investing in youth and adolescents is one of UNFPA’s main goals. In Domiz camp, which is now a home for 60,000 Syrian refugees, with up to 15,000 of them are youth in the (15-30) age group. UNFPA has a youth center with facilities that provides the youth with the chance to meet their peers and develop their skills.