TheAsianFootballConfederation(AFC)andthe UnitedNationsHighCommissionerforRefugees(UNHCR)jointprojectfocusedon helpingRohingyarefugeeslivebetterandonfurtheringtheirsocialinclusioninewhostcountries.
The programme will provide an opportunity to 120 refugee children and their parents to take part in football and other sports activities to promote their health awareness and education.
Sixteen boys and sixteen girls aged between 7 and 16 took part in the football activities at the launch event. It was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, four months after the two organisations signed a partnership agreement on the project. Cooperation between the AFC and the UNHCR takes place under auspices of the AFC Dream Asia Foundation.
One of the participants, Sharifah Binti Hafiz Abdul Jalil, 13 years-old, said: “What I enjoy best in football is competing with others. Football gives you dignity. I have played since I was 9 but this programme has helped me to play in a team in a structured way. I’m really enjoying it.”
At the event, AFC President Shaikh Salman said: “Football has a responsibility to contribute to a better world. The AFC’s partnership with UNHCR is an effective way of bringing the joy of football to less fortunate people in society. Refugees deserve a new start and football can help give them the confidence needed for it.”
The AFC-UNHCR project assisting Rohingya refugees in Malaysia will be implemented in two phases.
The first phase will focus on the promotion of education and health through sports, and takes place between September 2017 and February 2018.
It involves the Rohingya refugee community in Klang, Malaysia, via community centres. The participants are children and their parents who are enrolled at these centres, teachers and members of the parent-teacher associations. The first phase of the project will end with a football carnival involving the children and the parents.
The project will also offer health education programmes to refugee children at Batu Belah Primary School in Klang on a weekly basis.
The health education sessions are led by panel doctors from the AFC Sports Medicine unit and volunteers, and medical personnel from UNHCR. The English Premier League’s Premier Skills programme delivers the weekly football training programmes together with character education, emphasising health education learned in the classrooms.
Persatuan Jaringan Islam Global Masa Depan (JREC), a local NGO and UNHCR’s social development project partner, looks after the management of refugee schools where the programme is based. JREC is also the programme coordinator, reporting to the AFC and UNHCR.
The multi-disciplinary programme has also a creative side to it, as the players’ training bibs have been printed by the participants themselves as an art project.
The second phase of the project will cover issues such as promotion of livelihood, child protection and prevention of sexual gender-based violence, and is to commence in 2018 after an assessment of phase one is completed.