Football breaks down barriers in Jordan refugee camp

Football tournament breaks down barriers in Palestinian refugee camp of Baqa'a, Jordan


“When you play it feels like you are playing with your brothers.”

In June 2014, a team of Oxfam’s community outreach workers in Jordan organised a football tournament for young boys living in and around the long-standing Palestinian refugee camp of Baqa’a. World Cup fever has gripped the globe in recent weeks, but these players have much more to lose than a trophy. Watch this short film to see why.

The refugee crisis caused by the ongoing conflict in Syria is having a huge social impact in neighboring countries. In a bid to build friendship and trust amongst three distinct communities now living very closely and sharing limited resources, Oxfam invited boys from the local Jordanian community, as well as refugees from both Palestinian and Syrian communities, to take to the pitch and play. 

Jordan has become home to nearly 600,000 registered refugees fleeing the brutal conflict in Syria and the strain on the country’s infrastructure and public services is showing. While media reports often relay crowded images from Za'atari camp, more than 80% of the people who have crossed the border are living in host communities outside refugee camps. Syrian refugees living around cities and villages are not able to work and are, therefore, reliant on humanitarian assistance. The carefree environment for children to play, laugh and build friendships is thus unavailable. Giving them the chance to run, compete, and talk provides much needed relief from the pressure of the divided adult world around them. No matter which team won, all children had a smile on their face at the end of the day.