Atwo-weekfootballcourselookingtouse footballasameansofrelievingstressandresolvingconflicthasbroughttogetherover2,500refugeechildrenfrom CentralAfricanRepubliclivingintheCameroonianrefugeecampofGado-Badzere.
The purpose of the initiative, a partnership between the Israeli Embassy in Cameroon, the Fare member Mifalot, the Ministry of Sport and Physical Education (MINSEP) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was to also use football to encourage the peaceful coexistence between the Central African refugees in the region and the host community.
The initiative, which took place between 10-18 December, consisted of a series of training sessions and activities, led by Israeli coaches, for the local children in an attempt to encourage the development of positive self-image and strengthen the refugees’ sense of self-efficiency.
Israeli Ambassador to Cameroon, Nadav Cohen, said: “The idea for the project was born during my first visit to the refugee camp, when aid workers told us that the refugees wanted a television so that they could see the World Cup in Brazil.
“At that moment, I decided that if we would work in the refugee camp, I would try to bring the Mifalot organisation, which I had been exposed to during my previous job at the office.”
The programme also provided the refugee camp with new football resources to further the practice of the sport, including football balls and nets.
Tomer Marsland, a coach working in the project, said: “The method of operation ‘Mifalot’ employs, according to which it uses sport as an educational tool, constitutes a breakthrough in Israel and in the international arena.
“The cooperation between ‘Mifalot’ and the Israeli Embassy of Cameroon allows us to reach a unique community, export our extensive knowledge to those who need us and represent Israel with honor,”.
Mifalot, Education and Society Enterprises is the largest organisation in the Middle East using sports as a platform for social change. Based in Israel, in 2008 Mifalot launched its first social coexistence programme, in Palestine, and since then partnered up with a number of local organisations and social entrepreneurs in Rwanda, Camaroon, Haiti, India, Nigeria, Jordan, Philippines, Benin and Ghana to develop socio-educational sports programmes.