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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
28 September 2012

Real Madrid football giant hosted by UNRWA in Gaza

28 September 2012, Gaza -- More than 1,100 boys and girls are taking part in a joint “football academy” devised by the world-renowned Real Madrid Football Club and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The Real Madrid Foundation and the UN agency have opened academies in UNRWA educational centres in the occupied Palestinian territory (the Gaza Strip and the West Bank), in a project aimed at promoting such values as teamwork, gender equality, and leadership.

“This is a wonderful example of what sporting partnerships can achieve”, said UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness. “Footballers are positive role models for boys and girls and it is fantastic to see the transformative and inspirational power of the beautiful game having such an impact on UNRWA students. It is great to see UNRWA giving youth a chance to “engage” with arguably one of the greatest football clubs on Earth, and one which is so popular in Gaza.”

The Real Madrid Foundation coaching staff travelled to the occupied Palestinian territory to train football coaches at UNRWA’s Khan Younis Training Centre (Gaza Strip) and Kalandia Training Center (West Bank). The 29 participants – 20 men and nine women – have been hand-picked for their motivation and ability to pass on Real Madrid's methodology, as well as their experience in physical education and in football.

Some 1,000 Palestine refugee children from the Agency's 11 schools – five in the Gaza Strip and six in the West Bank (an average of 100 per school) – will participate in the initial phase of the project.

The Real Madrid Foundation joined forces with UNRWA to conduct training courses in the occupied Palestinian territory under a partnership agreement to promote sports programs in the Agency’s schools and to contribute to improving the education and well-being of Palestine refugee children. This partnership agreement will lead to the establishment of eight “sport schools” in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, in which 10,000 Palestine refugee children will participate.

Background information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance. Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. In 2012, the initial budgeted GF cash deficit was USD 75 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724

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