On 13 June 2010, three Yarmouk teenagers, Hani Hawilai, Mahmoud Mori and Hazar al-Tarifi, flew to South Africa for FIFA’s 2010 World Cup as part of Generation Amazing, an initiative launched by the Qatar 2022 Bid Committee in collaboration with UNRWA.
Generation Amazing is an ambitious project that promotes positive social and community development, aiming in particular to improve the quality of life of underprivileged young people through football.
The project includes football development training for coaches and young people, the organisation of football tournaments for UNRWA schools, the rehabilitation of a FIFA standard-size artificial football pitch within Yarmouk Camp, and a trip for three lucky children to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Future generation of leaders
Qatar 2022 Bid Committee and UNRWA hope that through improved facilities and training they will cultivate sustainable sports participation, social development and a future generation of leaders.
Roger Hearn, director of UNRWA affairs in Syria, gave his full support to the programme. He said: “Any initiative that encourages physical activity, teamwork and the development of social skills amongst Palestine refugee youth is an initiative well worth supporting.”
The three youth were chosen through a competitive selection process which assessed their football and sporting abilities, academic achievements, and communication, leadership and team skills.
Outstanding sports abilities
Hani Hawilai (13) and Mahmoud Mori (15), who both play for local Syrian football teams al-Muhafezah and al-Shurta, competed in a football tournament organised by the Qatar 2022 Bid Committee as part of the selection process for the trip. Hazar al-Tarifi (14) was nominated for her outstanding sporting abilities.
The four-day trip included a variety of football, educational and cultural activities tailored specifically for the teenagers and 22 other young ambassadors from Qatar, Pakistan, Nepal and Lebanon.
UNRWA teacher Saleem Abu el-Hana, who accompanied the children, said: “Despite travelling from different countries we were like a big family, all sharing in this exceptional experience.”
For the three students, being able to watch the Brazil-North Korea game was the highlight of their trip. Hani said: “It was amazing to watch the World Cup live. We could not expect or believe the atmosphere of the game or how noisy it would be.”
They met with the Qatar 2022 Bid Committee Chairman, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Qatar 2022 Bid Committee athlete ambassadors, including former Barcelona and Ajax star Ronald de Boer, and Argentinean striker Gabriel Batistuta.
Other activities also had a big impact on the children. Hazar described their visit to the Apartheid Museum as “very moving” and Mahmoud added: “I feel that as a Palestinian it is something we can relate to very strongly.”
The three youth, who had never left Syria prior to this trip, were grateful to the Qatar 2022 Bid Committee and UNRWA for giving them the opportunity to travel to South Africa, and they hope to be invited to Qatar in the upcoming months.
Text by Ryan Khoaz