Friday 31 May 2019, 12:30

Spirit of Soccer aiding Iraqi children

  • Spirit of Soccer uses football to raise awareness of landmines in Iraq

  • With the help of the FIFA Foundation, it helps more than 300,000 children

  • hears from two of its instructors

Iraq has witnessed many tragic events over the past two decades, with wars wreaking massive destruction and havoc in the country. As well as enduring fear and horror, Iraqi civilians have frequently been victims of landmines and unexploded bombs, millions of which could still be buried, according to several demining organisations.

Spirit of Soccer is one such organisation. Since 2009, it has been working to raise awareness about landmines throughout Iraq, where its programmes help more than 300,000 children – all through football.

With support from the FIFA Foundation, more than 50 local male and female Mine Risk Education Instructors affiliated with Spirit of Soccer visit local schools and communities to train the young generation on football and deliver lectures on landmines and their danger.

"We enlighten children about the risks of landmines through simple football programmes," instructor Saif Faisal told "After we deliver these messages to children, we ask them to convey them to their parents and relatives."

Saif has been working with Spirit of Soccer since 2011. "I personally received great support from the organisation," he said. "I was sent on the first training course in Jordan in 2013 and obtained a C-category training certificate from the Asian Football Confederation. I then obtained a B-category certificate last year at the end of a course organised by the Iraqi Football Association."

But Saif's work is not limited to raising awareness among children. "In addition to the football competitions that we hosted, we organised training sessions for young instructors in cities such as Kut, Ramadai, Samawa, among many others. The aim was to set up a network of volunteers able to communicate the awareness messages through football, and thus save lives."

Saif's colleague Surur Abdulkarim works passionately to raise awareness about landmines, especially since she lost her sister during the war in the city of Mosul. A nurse by profession, she had no idea that its voluntary work in her city would lead her to Spirit of Soccer.

"I've been working with the organisation for about a year now," she explained. "This work has completely changed my life. I now love football, and I enrolled in many training courses. But in addition to the love of football, I’m now more passionate about humanitarian work thanks to the efforts of this organisation.

"Working with Spirit of Soccer gave me the opportunity to participate in more football events. I will accompany a number of children injured in the war to Festival19 in France, which will be organised during the FIFA Women's World Cup."