Stories from Iraq

Al-Salaam Iraq and CCPA are currently preparing for the coming Open Fun Football School-season where thousands of children and hundreds of volunteers will take part in football schools and other activities in Iraq in order to develop grassroots sports and promote cooperation and friendship between different groups in Iraq.
Two of the Open Fun Football School-leaders here share some stories from their cooperation with CCPA and Al-Salaam:
After the fall of the regime in Iraq, Iraq has become a jungle where the strong eat the weak. In my city, which has all sects and religions, several killings and fights between different sectarian groups have taken place. Several of the children playing at our football school have no parents because of these sectarian problems. With CCPA we have tried to gather these children, as they don’t have much in their lives and they have many problems due to the things that happened with their parents. In my city it is very difficult for girls from conservative areas to play sports. They can’t be on a pitch together with boys, so we have decided to make a special day, where only girls take part. This is very giving for the girls. We need to give girls the same opportunities as boys. Beside the traditions, there is also a fear from the families that the girls will be kidnapped or killed, when going to the football school. Therefore, we have to convince the parents, that it is safe to send their children to our Open Fun Football Schools.
Under the harsh conditions we experienced in Iraq after the invasion of U.S. troops and the civil war, my city has been hit very hard. Houses and buildings have been destroyed, terrorists controlled the city, bombs killed women and children. It was a terrible time for the city – and especially for the children who were not allowed to have fun and be children. It was under these extreme conditions that I got the opportunity to work with CCPA and al-Salaam, and open an Open Fun Football School for boys and girls. Together with some other volunteers, we brought children together from different parts of the city on a small pitch. It was a great success – and both the children, volunteers and not least the parents were very happy with the football school. They told that it was the first time that the children had smiled and laughed in a long time. Later we have been able to build our own football pitch, and we now have a good place to play, have fun and meet new friends. I didn’t get any support from the government for it, but instead had to rely on many good people of the city. The people of the city love the place now. Through CCPA and al-Salaam, I have learned a lot, and we have been able to develop a lot of good activities for children – and volunteers, who receive training and meet people with same interests from other parts of the country. I want continue with the project – and inshaallah we can succeed in bringing the ideas of the football schools to all areas of our country. The country needs it!