Katie Chapman, Chelsea Football Club Ambassador and former women’s team captain visited Azraq camp in October. Working alongside coaches from the Chelsea Foundation, she led football coaching sessions for 300 children.
Katie enjoyed a 21-year playing career and has been dubbed the “David Beckham of women’s football.”
She and the other coaches were amazed at the talent and skills of the children despite them never having had structured coaching or proper footwear.
Joy through football
She said, “To see their faces and see how happy they were to be playing football and to see us from the outside and the excitement it caused was fantastic. To be a part of that, using something as simple as football, was overwhelming.
I was inspired by how they have overcome adversity and keep a big smile on their faces.
"All that mattered was the kids enjoying the sessions for that hour, providing them with some memories they can savour.”
Udai, 14, took part in the coaching session. He said, “I had a chance to learn new tricks and techniques on how to get past my defender which is great since I’ve always wanted to be a striker.”
Hossain, a Syrian refugee who volunteers for Plan International said, “Having Chelsea come gives the children a special experience and fantastic coaching but it also shows them that people from the outside care about them.”
Children struggling in Azraq camp
Azraq camp hosts around 36,000 Syrian refugees, 57% of whom are children. Village 5 within Azraq camp is fenced and isolated for security reasons and there is no freedom of movements for the inhabitants while they are waiting to be processed. There is also a lack of services, making it harder for refugees living here.
During her visit to the camp, Katie also saw a nursery and kindergarten run by Plan International and was introduced to some of the children taking part in lessons.
“There was laughter, and there were tears. We felt so sad for the journey these people have been on to reach the camp and for the life they had been forced to leave behind compared to the life they have in Village 5, but I was also inspired by how they have overcome adversity and keep a big smile on their faces,” she said.
Katie also met with HRH Prince Ali and the captain of the Jordan women’s football team, Stephanie al-Naber for dinner.
Summarising her trip, Katie said, “Without Plan International and the other charities that are working at Azraq, these people would have nothing – no education, no nurseries, no football facilities or even footballs. It’s so important. It gives these people hope when they have nothing and nowhere else to go.”
Gemma Day, Corporate Partnerships Communications Manager
Reem Al-Zubi, Communication Coordinator