OPERATION DAGSVÆRK: IYN delegation reflects on Lyon festival

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4. august 2016
The Iraqi team consisting of a youth and delegation leader each with three participants went to Lyon, France and participated in the Street Football World festival between 28th of June till July 7th 2016.

 The Iraqi team consisting of a youth and delegation leader each with three participants went to Lyon, France and participated in the Street Football World festival between 28th of June till July 7th 2016.

The delegation received their invitation back in January, where as they started to prepare themselves for the festival, including the tiring visa process: due to difficulties experienced.

The participation was more or less successful and the delegation learned many new things at the festival. Different games and ways of organising a major festival, as well as seeing people from many different cultures, religions and countries with the same mind-set, uniting people regardless of creed through the power of football.

Here are some reflections from the participants at the festival: Saja Oudah, 18 of age "It was nice to meet all these people from different cultures and nationalities, I started in this project as a child and player, now I play for the Iraqi national team, in the Iraqi women's premier league and also I am the coach of a team in the girls "cubs" league. I've been in the project for almost a decade, even though I am just 18.

Never been abroad, so all I've been doing is uniting people of different sects, religions and ethnicities in Iraq, through football and we've been extremely successful with over 50 football schools in Iraq in just my time as a coordinator.

What blew my mind, was that as soon as we reached the compound and met the other teams, we saw that many other countries in the world had the same struggle, all over the world, far-far-away from Iraq, we had people, with a different history and of a different "fabric", having the exact same issues as us in Iraq. We learned so much by them, they had different techniques, methods and strategies using football as a tool for peace-making, which I will for ever be thankful for and take home with me, with renewed energy".

Saif Al-Bayati, 17 of age "The loss of my father at the start of the invasion, all alone with my mom, being the elder of my siblings. I felt that, this was it, my life before even starting was about to end. I mean, let alone travel and see a different country and represent my people in a major festival - that would not have been ever near my mind.

Looking back at this festival I saw a great deal of administration, organisation and communication. I enjoyed all the games and different plays, but most importantly I was observing the SFW team that was doing a good job organizing an International festival.

That was the biggest intention for me to go and join this festival, learn how to arrange a festival of such magnitude back home in Iraq. I surely learned a lot.It was beautiful and I will take these memories home with me and start going back to work as a volunteer at the Iraqi Youth Network, where my mom also is a participant as a widows-coordinator.

Together, we've come a long way since we lost the head of the family (my father), stronger than ever before".Hassan Luaibi, 18 of age "Seeing a different country, meeting new people from different walks of life, meeting people from similar projects such as ours, was such a energy boost for us. Life in Iraq is hard; we're at war on many different fronts with those who do not wish peace for Iraq. It's anarchy, unlawful, heated and loud.

Not just physically, but mentally.To come to France, see the stability, the coherence, the way of life; was so different, refreshing and inspiring. Yet, they have the same mentality as us, the organizers worked the same way as us, different in some ways, but it wasn't as if we were from a different planet.

That was good for us, you know, some kind of acknowledgment for us the youth of Iraq, volunteers of Iraqi Youth Network, an acknowledgment that we are heading ourselves and the future of our country on the right direction."

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