AMMAN: In partnership with the UEFA Foundation for Children, more than 1,000 pairs of football boots have been donated to the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, which is home to more than 80,000 displaced Syrian refugees.
The footwear was distributed in partnership with sponsor Kia after having been collected during last season’s UEFA Europa League Trophy Tour, which stopped off in eight European cities: Geneva, Seville, Berlin, London, Milan, Moscow, Paris and Baku.
Leading former players such as Deco, Lothar Matthäus, David Seaman, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Andrés Palop, Filippo Inzaghi, Andrey Arshavin and Youri Djorkaeff all took part as ambassadors on the various legs.
UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin said: ”Having visited the Zaatari refugee camp, I have seen first-hand just how much the youngsters love playing football and what the game means to them.
“The UEFA Foundation for Children helped to provide pitches for the refugees to use, but until now they have lacked football boots. I would like to thank the fans across Europe who have donated their footwear and helped to make a real difference to those living at the camp.”
The donated football boots are already being put to good use, during the daily training sessions and weekly tournaments, which are organized by Jawdat El Melhem and Waed Shukri Al Shwamreh, the football programme coordinators at the Zaatari camp.
“Receiving the boots was a wonderful experience for the children and it filled their hearts with happiness and joy,” said Eman Ismail Al Awady, who is a female coach at the camp who runs training sessions for the children.
“The boots will encourage them to play football more often, while having access to regularly playing sports will help to support them physically and psychologically.”