10 September 2003

Football without Borders: Winners All

Qatar to Host UNODC Football Camp for Iraqi and Other Middle Eastern Youth

VIENNA, 10 September (UN Information Service) -- Young football players from Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar will play football together, share cultures and learn healthy life skills at Football without Borders, a camp aimed at promoting goodwill, leadership and living a healthy lifestyle through sport. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) are teaming up to organize the camp, which will be hosted by the Qatar National Olympic Committee (QNOC) in Doha from 16-20 October.

The football associations in the four participating countries for the camp are selecting a total of eighty boys, aged 12-14. The boys chosen will reflect the ethnic and religious balance of their respective countries. "Football without Borders will be an invaluable opportunity for these young people to learn healthy life skills and to discover their common bonds," said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa. "Their experiences at the camp will help them become important voices in their home countries for leadership and understanding".

"It is a great honour for Qatar to host UNODC for this fantastic event in which we can jointly help young people of the region," said His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Crown Prince of Qatar and Heir Apparent, President of the Qatar National Olympic Committee. "I hope that we will see some young stars of tomorrow emerge from the camp, but most importantly, I look forward to seeing young people returning to their own countries better equipped to face the challenges of tomorrow, telling their brothers of what can be achieved through sports and team spirit."

President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Mohamed bin Hammam, expressed his own support of the project as a worthy example for all regions in Asia. "Asia is a very diverse continent, and we welcome all initiatives that focus on unity through football. Football has a strong role to play in the community and in society as a whole. Just as importantly, this offers a valuable opportunity for children to learn new skills both on and off the playing field".

Once at the camp, the boys will be divided into four multinational teams, irrespective of race or religion. They will use sport as a uniting force that transcends national borders. In addition to football instruction and competition, the young players will share living quarters with their new teammates, eat together and participate in workshops led by UNODC. International professional football stars and players from Middle Eastern countries will also attend the camp and work with the boys.

The football associations of the four countries have also been asked to send three youth coaches each, who will receive special training to better understand the qualities of sport that promote the overall development of young people.

Football without Borders builds on UNODC's previously successful sports-based camps. Previous events used basketball to bring together 50 young boys from Slovenia, Croatia, Federal Republic (FR) of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and FYRO Macedonia in 2001, and 50 boys from Greece and Turkey in 2002.

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