¶ 1 Leave a comment on Absatz 1 0 It had been three years since the last Spirit of Football project in Jordan in March 2019. Although our teams would have loved to continue their work in the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan, the Covid 19 pandemic didn’t allow for any external projects to take place within the camp. Which is most disappointing for the inhabitants of the camp, since many NGO activities in the camp were reduced during Covid times and the little contact they had had to the world outside the camp was taken from them. So we were very happy when our project for November/ December 2022 was confirmed and allowed us to run a six-day workshop in the Azraq refugee camp, funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on Absatz 2 0 Several teams of Spirit of Football had been to Azraq between 2017 and 2019, conducting Training of Trainers workshops, for example in fairplay football and graffiti art. This year’s project was also about teamwork and fairplay football, but included methods of textile art as well as highlighting camp innovations from the residents themselves.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on Absatz 4 0 For almost all of our participants it was their first time in a SoF workshop. The majority of them were young, with many of them being in their late or early twenties. Only a few of them had been to our workshops before. Most of the participants also didn’t know each other well, so the first ice breaker games didn’t work so well, because many were still shy and reluctant in the beginning. Also, in Middle Eastern culture the methods of teaching are more frontal, and therefore it could be that some people are not used to SoF’s interactive methods. So on the first day we continued by introducing Spirit of Football through a presentation and video, and asked the participants to reflect on what we presented. Our message ‘One Ball, One world’ resonated with them.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on Absatz 5 0 A heavy November rain made it at times difficult to hear each other’s voices in the room and prevented us from playing a first fairplay football session outside. Instead, we continued with ‘Spirit of Whispers’, a drawing challenge, where everyone at a table has to add his or her drawings to a paper to create a shared work of art.
¶ 7 Leave a comment on Absatz 7 0 Fairplay Football is a slowed-down version of football, with some extra rules to make the game more inclusive. Each player has to stop the ball, for example, before passing it on. Dribbling with the ball is not allowed. Moreover, cheering and supporting the teammates is a must and all goals are celebrated together. Fairplay football with the men was difficult in the beginning, because often people who play the game well are too eager to play the football they know (dribbling for example) and find it hard to slow down. In the process, over time, everyone understood the concept of fairplay football.
¶ 9 Leave a comment on Absatz 9 0 For the first fairplay football session with the female participants, Sophia and I introduced basic football techniques like passing the ball. We were indoors with only women, so it was a safe space for them to try out some passing and shooting. Quickly the activity turned into a dancing session to Arabic music. *Tip: Arabic music always helps to create a relaxing atmosphere.
¶ 10 Leave a comment on Absatz 10 0 During the next day, we played fairplay football on the outside field with a few ‘selected’ men and the women from the previous day. Both men and women were excited about the game and talked about how much they enjoyed it. It can be considered a success that we were able to bring men and women together to play football in the camp. On the last day we played one more round of FPP with a mixed group. After that, we also had a ‘normal’ football session with just the men, which was indeed a very fair game of football.
¶ 11 Leave a comment on Absatz 11 0 On the day before last, we also had one fairplay football session outside on the field with the women and our participant Amjad’s girls team. Amjad (see picture below) is a football trainer for CARE International, our partner in the camp, who coaches an all-girls football group in the camp. We left all football materials (balls, cones, bibs etc.) with Amjad to continue to use. He pledges to use them for football activities for his girls group as well as to allow men and women from our activities to continue to play in the CARE space.
¶ 13 Leave a comment on Absatz 13 0 We started the art activities with ‘Spirit of Whispers’ to draw and get into art exercises as a team. On the afternoon of the first day, small groups came to the table to add their paint to a prepared T-shirt with the word ‘peace’ on it. Everyone participated to create this piece of art.
¶ 16 Leave a comment on Absatz 16 0 During the other activities Krusty practised more textile art methods. When painting squares on the tote bags, the participants were supposed to focus on gradually moving between different gradients within colours.
¶ 17 Leave a comment on Absatz 17 0 Krusty also introduced the stencil method, where you can cut out different shapes or letters and then print them on a textile. When we distributed some donated football shirts from the German national team, some of the participants decided to paint their own names or other symbols to personalise their own jerseys.
¶ 19 Leave a comment on Absatz 19 0 During the last two workshop days, we also asked our participants to work together on a large cotton canvas, in order to create a shared expression of art from all of them that we could take back to Germany. We asked them to paint about their experiences and hopes as well as about what they had experienced in the workshop.
¶ 21 Leave a comment on Absatz 21 0 Through the mentioned activities of fairplay football and common, collaborative art we strengthened the idea of teamwork as well as the dynamics within the group. Though shy in the beginning, throughout the workshop days participants became more outgoing and active.
¶ 22 Leave a comment on Absatz 22 0 Amongst the games that seemed to be most enjoyed was ‘Beat Maker’, a game where someone has to leave the room and come back inside and has to find out who is leading the movements being made by the group circle.
¶ 24 Leave a comment on Absatz 24 0 The most euphoric game was Spirit’s famous “Rock, Paper, Scissors World Cup”, which is a tournament in rock, paper, scissors. Rock-paper-scissors is a game known globally so it is a comfortable game to play because everyone knows the basic rules.
Innovations and visiting homes in the camp
¶ 25 Leave a comment on Absatz 25 0 During Spirit’s previous projects in the camp, requests by the SoF team to visit participants’ houses were always denied by the camp authorities. The previous project teams were only allowed to carry out activities within the community centres and on common sports fields. That means that our team had never before been allowed to accept any of the various coffee and tea invitations from our participants. This year, Stützi and I were allowed to visit the peoples’ houses in the context of documenting the inhabitants’ innovations.
¶ 26 Leave a comment on Absatz 26 0 In the visits in the years before all visitors to the camp including our team were more thoroughly inspected when entering the camp, and walking around in the camp was forbidden, so we were much more free this time. For our small tour through the camp we were accompanied by a representative of CARE International – our local partner within the Azraq camp that organised logistics and access to and in the camp. The idea of these local visits was to document innovations from camp inhabitants themselves; innovations they have built from the scarce available materials they have in the camp to make life a bit easier.
See you soon inshallah
¶ 27 Leave a comment on Absatz 27 0 As general reflection we can say that we were well received and that our participants were shy in the beginning, but then got more and more into our activities and opened up. They were happy because they had had almost no activities throughout the Corona pandemic and no contact with foreigners.
¶ 28 Leave a comment on Absatz 28 0 We believe the highlights of our workshop in Azraq this year were the Rock-Paper-Scissors Championship and the mixed Fairplay Football game. Everyone was very enthusiastic about the rock, papers, scissors game so we actually ended up doing the championship twice. The women were also very excited to play football; most of them played for the first time in their life. The mixed fairplay football game was very respectful and then men were maybe surprised in the beginning but then also very supportive of the women playing and the mixed teams playing together.
¶ 29 Leave a comment on Absatz 29 0 Moreover, additional people from outside wanted to participate in the workshop, but we had limited capacities and only six workshop days so we couldn’t allow more people to join. Many children wanted to participate, too, when they saw us playing football. We then included them on two days, but were not able to include them every day throughout all the activities.
¶ 30 Leave a comment on Absatz 30 0 Finally, it is clear that these activities are needed in the camp. The lack of perspective and not being able to leave the camp often can be frustrating.The big demand and excitement about the activities shows how much the people yearn for activities that give them distraction, as well supplies them with methods for working together, share sport and other activities, and art projects. Also, there are many talented people in the camp. It is remarkable how people living in the Azraq camp can come up with inventions, gardening techniques, and art works with so little resources in the camp. We wish for more time to find more and we would like to be able to support and help such talented people and spread their innovative ideas.
Spirit of Football Team for Azraq 2022
¶ 32 Leave a comment on Absatz 32 0 A first big thank you to Qais, who has been supporting our team as a translator for a few years now, though he is so much more than a translator. He organised the trip to Azraq, took care of logistics within Jordan as well as the communication with camp authorities and all participants. Qais, what would we have done without you?
¶ 33 Leave a comment on Absatz 33 0 Andrew as President of Spirit of Football has been to Jordan several times and experienced many different situations and atmospheres, in around the Azraq camp. Andrew represents SoF and leads the fairplay football sessions together with Sophia. He is the founder of SoF and has internalised Spirit of Football’s integrative and inclusive character.
¶ 34 Leave a comment on Absatz 34 0 Sophia has also been previously to Azraq and knows the precarious situations of the camp inhabitants. With her energy and positivity she definitely leaves an imprint on our participants. Sophia had led numerous workshops in schools in Germany and abroad. With her encouragement, every participant gets excited about fairplay football and the rock, paper, scissors championship.
¶ 35 Leave a comment on Absatz 35 0 Stützi (Sebastian), who has also previously been to the Azraq camp, takes the lead in being the feel good manager, a position he was born for. At the same time he takes the most beautiful and professional photos, as you can see in this blog entry and on our social media platforms. All the pictures of our 2023 Azraq calender were taken by him.
¶ 36 Leave a comment on Absatz 36 0 For Krusty (Steve) it was the first time in Jordan and the Azraq camp, and he struggled at times seeing the lack of perspective for the camp inhabitants. Still, he turned his frustration into positive energy and was most immersed in using his vast experience to deliver art activities with the participants. Krusty practised textile art methods with the participants, ranging from creating stencils and paintings on shirts to tote bags and canvases.
¶ 37 Leave a comment on Absatz 37 0 Myself (Iris), I have been to Jordan before, but it was my first time visiting the Azraq camp. Knowing some Arabic, I was able to facilitate conversations with our participants as well as conducting some interviews about the innovations we documented. Together with Sophia, I introduced the fairplay football game to the women, which we later applied again together with other participants.