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Soccer helping to bring together Syrian children in refugee camp

Apr 15, 2014, 2:35 PM EDT

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While violence and turmoil has driven many Syrian people to find refuge in Lebanon and Turkey, one refugee camp in Jordan is bringing Syrian children together through soccer.

That’s the subject of a report from The Daily Beast’s Peter Schwartzstein, which details the goings-on in the Zaatari refugee camp. While the camp has to deal with many different people from sometimes-warring backgrounds, playing soccer has helped close the gap between differing opinions and beliefs.

The story deals with many obstacles faced by the girls, including some prevailing belief that they shouldn’t even be watching boys play sport, let alone playing it. And then there’s this:

Several months of training later, and most of her young charges have finally got to grips with football’s quirks—“they know you can’t pick it up now,” Bdour giggled—but refugee camp life poses its own particular problems.

Like stolen football fields.

“We tried to put down an artificial pitch, but it was cut up and moved inside people’s tents, so now the only thing we can do is gravel,” said Reema Asendar of the Asian Football Development Project (AFPD), whose funding and expertise launched the football program and sustained it through a rough early patch marred by fighting among male players.

It’s a strong read, one we’d recommend. Any time a leader of a community can calmly and confidently say that the “violence is fading away” and “children are becoming more receptive” because of sport is worth mentioning.

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