The power of football to promote social cohesion and empower vulnerable refugee communities was further emphasised in Lebanon with the recent conclusion of the Young Coach Education Programme Lebanon 2017/18.
The first-of-its-kind six-month long coaching course was brought to fruition thanks to a global partnership between the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Dream Asia Foundation, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Football Club Social Alliance (FCSA).
Conducted by the finest coaches from German’s Bundesliga sides, SV Werder Bremen, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, FC Schalke 04, and FC Basel 1893 of Switzerland some 30 men and women coaches from Lebanon, Iraq and Syria were equipped with the skill sets and knowledge to instill lifelong values and promote character building through football for refugee children and youth in a safe and enriching environment.
The aspiring coaches received 90 hours of football coaching, leadership and pedagogical as well as life and soft skills education over three modules which commenced in September 2017. All 30 participants received their Young Coach certificate of the FCSA as well as the D-Licence for children’s football coaching from the Lebanese Football Association.
Willy Schmid, Coaching Instructor from FC Basel said, “The groups of young coaches were very heterogeneous. The differences could clearly be felt in the first module. In the second module, we instructors were better placed to bridge these differences and in the third module, I saw that they were grown into one team.”
“And this is the most important thing of all. Despite their different backgrounds and interests, they unite for the same goal of working with children.”
Two months on, the programme is already leaving a lasting legacy to unite and galvanise the conflict-prone communities and is fast on track to reach its full potential.
“In the (refugee) camp, there is a boy who has a disability in his legs. I have tried to include him in my activities. I adapted the games and allowed him to use his hands instead of his feet. This training has shown me how I can adapt games to include everyone. I volunteer to help people that truly need help. It is my passion to be a coach and help children,” said Kamal, one of 13 Syrian refugees to have completed the programme.
Since their graduation, the coaches have engaged 206 percent more children in their activities since September 2017. Today, more than 2,600 girls and boys are taking part in grassroots football and educational activities conducted by the 30 coaches, as opposed to 800 prior to the training.