’’At the end of the match, the two teams shake hands and congratulate each other.’’ - Building Social Cohesion in SyriaPublished: Jun 28, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
We live in a world where isolation and loneliness are becoming an increasing challenge for many communities, especially for countries affected by armed conflict. For example, in Syria the conflict prompted people to seek refuge in communities that may be different from their own. Taking steps to create opportunities for friendships and genuine connection and promoting social cohesion is very important, now more than ever. Sporting events can provide the perfect opportunities for this to happen.
People in Need works on organizing diverse activities where people can meet and form new friendships. An example was a basketball tournament for children, comprising four teams in a three-day-long competition.
‘’I love basketball, it is very interesting especially with friends,’’ said Yamaan, a 14-year-old participant in the basketball tournament. Mohammed, 13 years old, was very excited to participate in such a tournament for the first time: ‘’It is my first competition, but of course it is not the last one.I am very happy and proud as my mother is here and encourages me to play and score points,’’ he said.
We participate in sport and active recreational opportunities with others because of common interests. ‘’The main goal of these activities is to bring the host-community and the displaced people together. Also, to bring people from the same society together, and to create an atmosphere of trust and team spirit among participants,’’ said Mohammed Abduldaiem, Protection Officer for PIN in northern Syria.
Basketball enhances cohesion in the community
It is a good opportunity for people, as there is something interesting for the participants, their parents, and the audience. ‘’Many parents are encouraging their children to learn this game. One of the kids' parents said, ‘It's been a long time since I've watched a basketball game. You made us remember the good memories of the past,’’’ said the basketball coach, Mohammed Alhussin. ‘’Basketball enhances cohesion in the community by using activities and it is popular among the members of the community, as they get to know each other in such activities and establish friendships and close social relations among them,’’ he added.
Children are very happy to play this game in the tournaments and they feel very excited to collaborate with their teammates to win the match. ‘’I like competition and rivalry between players and teamwork within the team. Also, my parents encourage me to continue playing basketball to be a champion,’’ said Yamaan. ‘’Each player in the team has a specific position. There are center players, wing players and play makers. The work cannot succeed without cooperation between all members of the team. I like to be the key of all strategies in playing,’’ said Mohammed.
In basketball, children can learn many things in social relations. The coach, Mohammed, said, ’’Basketball is not only a sport, there are moral principles that I am keen to instill in the hearts of the players, including not distinguishing between the players, whether in terms of color, race, religion or anything else, and also that they learn to accept the result whether it is a win or a loss.’’
Thanks to the European Neighborhood Instrument (ENI), PIN can support communities affected by protracted conflict in northern Syria.