Save the Children Jordan launches with Arsenal Former Captain Per Mertesacker a new coaching programme in Za’atari Refugee Camp to build children’s courage and inner strength through football

Sunday 16 September 2018

Former Arsenal captain and Arsenal Academy Manager Per Mertesacker launches new coaching programme with Save the Children in Za’atari Refugee Camp, Jordan

Save the Children Jordan hosted a media visit by Former Arsenal Captain and new Arsenal Academy Manager, Per Mertesacker, along with BBC to Za’atari Refugee Camp heading the launch of a new “Coaching for Life” programme. The programme is co-developed by Arsenal and Save the Children, and funded by The Arsenal Foundation, to build vulnerable children’s courage and inner strength through football.

Working as a team, Arsenal and Save the Children combined their expertise to create a unique programme to improve the mental wellbeing of children affected by conflict and violence. The ambitious programme was developed over the last 18 months, harnessing almost 100 years of Save the Children’s child protection expertise and 33 years of Arsenal in the Community’s sports for development experience. It is initially being piloted in Jordan and Indonesia. The project aims to reach 4,500 girls and boys over three years and consists of seven coaching modules that will run over 20 week cycles.

Rania Malki, Save the Children Jordan’s CEO, said: “Children living in Za’atari have experienced things that no child should ever have to. This innovative programme is helping us reach the most vulnerable children in the camp, particularly those at risk of child labour and early marriage. Save the Children has been committed to protecting children from conflict and violence for almost 100 years and now, thanks to Arsenal, we can empower and protect girls and boys through the sport they love.”

“Children will be encouraged to visualise their dreams and hopes for the future and identify ways to achieve them. The programme will also explore how girls and boys can make their community a better place. The goal is clear, together Arsenal and Save the Children will give these children back their childhoods and coach them towards a better future.” She added.

Per Mertesacker said: “When children suffer – we all lose. People here have fled their country and I have no experience of that, so I talked to them and learnt a lot. It was a privilege for me to visit. The young people I met focus on what is happening now and this project will give them courage to cope with the struggles they face day to day, as well as providing them with the skills to have a better future.”

“Save the Children and Arsenal understand the power of children and the power of football. Children are our future and we need to stand side by side with them. It was great to see the coaching in action and I am so proud that we are making a difference for the children living here.” Per added.

Among the children Per met is a 15-year-old boy named Mohammad, who fled Syria when he was 9 years-old and has been living in the camp for 6 years.

Mohammad, a Syrian refugee living in Za'atari Camp is coached by Per Mertesacker as part of a new coaching prgramme with Save The Children in Za'atari Refugee

 Mohammad said: “I love playing football, I forget everything when I’m on the pitch. Meeting Per has been a dream. Football teaches me respect and I’m excited to learn more skills from the coaches.”

The programme will incorporate a ‘Train the Trainer’ model – where Arsenal football coaches will teach the modules to local trainers in Jordan. The male and female Arsenal coaches will live in Jordan for almost two months and work with Save the Children to ensure the programme is as effective as possible and tailored to meet the needs of the children in each community.

The coaching modules aim to focus on emotions, communication, decision making, self-esteem and conflict management. Through football, the children will not only develop the skills, but also learn about their rights as children and the importance of gender equality. Save the Children and Arsenal will establish robust evidence to demonstrate how effective the programme is, particularly with the future ambition of replicating it in other countries.