Sport for Development


Project title: Exchange, education and conflict management through Sport for Development
Commissioned by: Germany Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Jordan, Iraq
Lead executing agency: Jordan: Ministry of Education
Iraq: Ministry of Planning of the Kurdish Regional Government
Overall term: 2016 to 2019

Sport for development: Jordan und northern Iraq. Football training in Zaatari refugee camp. © GIZ


Since 2011, the war in Syria and the rise of the terrorist militia Islamic State have driven millions of people from their homes. By mid-2016, Jordan had more than 655,000 officially registered Syrian refugees – although it is estimated there are actually more than twice that many in the country. Around 250,000 refugees fled to Iraq in 2016 along with 46,000 Iraqi nationals who returned to their homeland from Syria. In addition, there are over three million people internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq.

Both in Jordan and in Iraq, refugees mostly live outside the camps in host communities. In some cities, such as Dohuk in northern Iraq, the population has doubled since 2011, giving rise to enormous challenges. All population groups need access to basic services and healthcare. Furthermore, people need more psychosocial support, education and leisure activities to help ease the tensions. Traumatised people, and children and young people especially, require professional guidance and support. Many local authorities and schools have reached their limits, with teaching staff already working a double-shift system to provide morning and afternoon schooling for Jordanian and Syrian children respectively.


In Iraqi and Jordanian refugee camps and host communities, internally displaced persons, refugees and local people aged between 8 and 24 engage in sporting activities together in a safe environment. In addition to promoting their sporting abilities, this nurtures respect, tolerance, discipline, empathy, fair play and self-confidence.



On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is helping local organisations to roll out sporting activities in Iraqi and Jordanian refugee camps and host communities.

The project employs proven educational methods to promote the physical and mental development of children and young people, including disadvantaged and disabled youth. Girls and young women are also encouraged to take part in sports. Based on the Do No Harm concept, all project measures are planned and designed to be conflict sensitive. Coaching for local trainers, sports instructors and social workers sensitises them to the diverse options for development that can be harnessed through sport. Equipped with this knowledge, they can then use sporting activities in future to specifically promote social values and skills.

In a region that traditionally offers little access to sporting activities, involvement can lead to greater independence. Team sport opens up new opportunities. It creates a space for social interaction between children and young people from different backgrounds, giving them a chance to get to know each other – and fostering conflict prevention and hope for a peaceful future in the process.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is working closely with the Jordan Football Association (JFA), the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP) and the University of Jordan to develop a training concept designed to promote the physical and mental development of Syrian refugees and Jordanian youth. The project builds on experience gained from projects in South Africa, Colombia and Brazil.


Thanks to GIZ’s support, young people at over 60 schools and 40 community centres have access to sporting activities. The Sport for Development approach has an outreach in excess of 10,000 children and young people in Jordan, predominantly in the provinces of Amman, Irbid, Mafraq and Zarqa. In the northern Iraqi districts of Dohuk City, Saxo and Su-mel, around 65,000 children and young people in six refugee camps and 6 youth centres are currently benefitting from sporting activities.

The Sport for Development approach provides psychosocial support and promotes violence prevention and conflict transfor-mation on a sustainable basis. Using a multi-stage upgrading process, the project is training 240 teachers and coaches – half of them women – to deliver sports activity sessions.

21-year-old Maryana Haddad plays for the Jordanian national women’s football team. Having completed training courses on the Sport for Development programme, Maryana now offers coaching herself. ‘I quickly recognised the enormous potential of the programme concept. The idea of deliberately combining professional football training with personal development is new to Jordan. And it’s much more fun working with children in this way and watching them develop, regardless of their nationality, age or gender. As coach, I’m also learning a lot about my function as a role model for the kids – both on and off the pitch.’

Sport für Entwicklung: Jordanien und Nordirak. Die Trainerin Maryana bei einem Fußballtraining. © GIZ