The Arsenal Foundation

Supporting our global community through COVID-19 

Before the world was placed into lockdown, our men’s first team called into Za’atari Refugee Camp, thousands of miles away in Jordan, to talk with Karam* and Hassan* from Coaching for Life. 

Click the 'Play' button above to see them quiz Nicolas Pepe on a new goal celebration, Rob Holding discuss the mental resilience he needed to come back from injury and Granit Xhaka share his parents’ refugee story. 

Combining the expertise of Arsenal and Save the Children, Coaching for Life is a unique football coaching model delivered in Za’atari Refugee Camp, Jordan and Jakarta, Indonesia which to date has supported more than 800 children affected by conflict and violence.

Using a co-created football-for-resilience model, we have trained 14 Syrian refugee coaches in Jordan and 27 local coaches in Jakarta to deliver weekly sessions that explore themes such as emotion and conflict management with the aim to improve children’s wellbeing and give them the best possible start in life. 

As with every facet of normal life, Coaching for Life has felt the impact of COVID-19, though there are currently no cases in Za’tari Refugee Camp, where 76,000 Syrians have been in lockdown since March 21. 

In Indonesia, the densely-populated Jakarta, where Coaching for Life runs, has been the epicentre of the outbreak. A nationwide lockdown has closed schools and limited transport. 

Although we have immediately suspended our football coaching sessions in these areas, we are doing everything we can to reach out and support the children who need us at this time. 

In Za’atari, 80 per cent of our participants have access to a smartphone and we have created virtual groups to share aspects of our football for resilience activities, keeping child advocacy sessions going and delivering child protection engagement sessions for caregivers.

We are also working with the Jordan Ministry of Education to create filmed activities encouraging children in isolation to keep active. Led by Arsenal coaches, the drills will be broadcast on national television in May 2020.

In Jakarta, extreme poverty means our participants are less likely to own a smartphone or have access to the internet, so we are exploring radio-based remote delivery and session plans.

Across Jakarta and Jordan, we have updated the content of our sessions to link to the pandemic and help children make sense of their new realities. We continue to review and adapt activities based on the latest government guidelines.

Although our coaches are unable to deliver football sessions during this challenging period, our commitment - to keep these children protected and to support their mental, physical and social wellbeing - remains stronger than ever.

You too can play your part and support Coaching for Life by donating here

*names changed to protect identities

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