Doha – Education Above All (EAA) Foundation’s Al Fakhoora programme, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Generation Amazing (GA), a programme of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) organised #Football4Gaza festival on Wednesday 07 July 2021. The event offered young people and their families an escape from the destruction and trauma caused by over 14 years of siege, four wars and continuous conflict in Gaza.
EAA and its partners initiated the organisation of this festival, which was facilitated by 50 Al Fakhoora students (Qatar Scholarship Programme) who helped staff six activity stations for the participating children, including sports games, storytelling, a cinema bus and scouting games. A highlight of the day was the football match between Al Fakhoora students top football players and the Stars of Gaza, made up of some of the best players from teams across Gaza.
Talal Al Hothal, Director of EAA’s Al Fakhoora programme, commented: “Children and youth in Gaza have suffered prolonged destruction, loss and trauma, and through #Football4Gaza, we at Education Above All Foundation want to lift their spirits, even for a day. We know how much children love football, and we hope that our programme, which combines physical activity with creative games and special video messages from football and music stars will show this community the world cares about them and about their well-being. We want to thank our partners UNDP and Generation Amazing for helping us to organise this festival and to carry out our commitment to build up children’s courage and inner strength through sports and entertainment.”
#Football4Gaza’s closing ceremony included video contributions from beIN Sports Commentator, Hafid Derradji, and former Palestinian National Football Team players Mustafa Nijm and Ramzi Saleh.
In addition, Qatar Legacy Ambassadors Ali Al Habsi, Mohammed Saadoun Al Kuwari, Khalid Salman, and Younis Mahmood recorded video messages in support of the children and youth in Gaza; praising their resilience, determination and will power.
Yvonne Helle, UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator, acknowledged the partnership UNDP has with Education Above All Foundation over the past 11 years and reflected on sport being a universal language that has the power to change the world. “The activity today is very much needed in an environment like Gaza where the population, particularly the young, went through loss and difficult experiences over the years. This will alleviate the considerable stress and frustration among children and youth and give the participants the opportunity they deserve to experience the joy and thrill of inquiring, exploring, discovering, learning and engaging with others”.
Since its establishment, EAA’s Al Fakhoora programme has not only provided around 1000 higher education scholarships to youth in Gaza, but further provided psychosocial support for children, youth and educators to equip and support them to recover, achieve their potential and, in time, contribute to post-conflict recovery. EAA’s Qatar Scholarship has developed a distinct and holistic approach to working with children, their families and educators alike, ensuring sustainability and scalability once programmes are complete.
Following the organisation of a successful event, #Football4Gaza will continue to draw global attention to the tragic situation of children and youth in Gaza, and the psychosocial support they need in order to rebuild communities.