Tarek Takes the Lead for Children in Lebanon

Our Sports and Humanitarian Assistance (SaHA) programme in Lebanon draws on the power of football to promote social cohesion. In the programme young people are trained to become mentors to their peers. Tarek is just one of the programme’s many mentors. This is his story

War Child, UNICEF, Right To Play and Dutch football federation the KNVB have all come together in Lebanon to help create unity through the Sports and Humanitarian Assistance (SaHA) programme.

The programme uses football as a platform to harness the participation of children and young people in designing their own activities and events to improve their communities. A key part of the programme is the WorldCoaches initiative, which serves to train and educate young football coaches to support the social development of their players and communities.

Tarek is one of the programme’s WorldCoaches. 26-year-old Tarek lives in the Al Beddawi refugee camp - one of Lebanon’s many Palestinian refugee camps - even though he was born in Lebanon. Tarek has recently encountered problems with his legal residency due to his refugee status - but he still strives to make a difference through his participation in the SaHA programme.

When asked what keeps him going, Tarek responds “My motivation. My motivation is what helps me transmit positive energy within the groups I am present in.” Tarek’s determination is so strong he even evaded checkpoints by jumping fences and walking on dirt roads - all so that he could make his training session.

Role model

Tarek leads a group of 25 children in his sessions, which encompass War Child’s life-skills programme the DEALS and basic football training devised by the KNVB. Tarek believes that the programme’s special combination of sporting and life-skills training helps the participating children to strengthen their resilience and develop emotionally.

The fact that he feels he is making a difference further strengthens Tarek’s motivation. “I want to free Syrian and Palestinian children from violence through taking responsibility and being able to help children growing up in conflict,” he says.

“Being able to decrease [the] existing tensions of the children who come from different nationalities and different backgrounds throughout the SAHA project - this is my motivation, this is what makes me thrive.”