Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown admits he felt "truly humbled" after visiting a refugee camp in Jordan, as part of the Club’s global partnership with Save the Children.
The former Arsenal centre back opened a new Save the Children football pitch for Syrian children in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan on May 2. He spent two days visiting the camp to highlight the critical work being carried out on the ground by Save the Children.
Keown handed out Arsenal shirts, footballs and other memorabilia and gave the children the benefit of his years of experience with some invaluable training sessions. He also heard some of the devastating stories from those who have been affected by the conflict, before meeting with Save the Children representatives to see how their work is making a difference on the ground.
"It is humbling to see what football can bring and what is does," Keown said. "We played football at a professional level to win things, but actually the sport is far deeper than that. It brings people together and it builds bridges, and [this] is an example of that.
"It’s been a truly humbling experience coming out here and listening to some of the stories of hardship from children so young. The strength and resilience that they show, having been through so much, is an inspiration and it’s been a privilege to support Save the Children’s important work and use the power of the Arsenal name to bring a little bit of hope and enjoyment to their lives.
"Football is a platform for bringing people together, instilling discipline, team work and a sense of achievement and well-being which are vital ingredients for future success.”
Save the Children is one of the largest organisations working in the camp, providing vital support for children and families that have crossed into Jordan to escape the Syrian civil war.
Some 120,000 people - more than half of them children - are sheltered at the Za’atari camp in the north of Jordan. Numbers continue to increase daily with hundreds of new arrivals from Syria. Save the Children, in partnership with UN agencies and Jordanian authorities, is working around the clock to help the Syrian refugees.
As well as providing food and other essentials, the charity is providing emotional support for children who have suffered or witnessed brutal attacks within Syria and working to get them back into education.Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 9 May 2013