It is no secret that the ongoing Syrian conflict and the scarcity of Lebanese resources have culminated a broad refugee crisis. With many of the refugees poor and unregistered, most camps concentrate around other impoverished and underdeveloped communities... One of which is in the Bekaa Valley.
Nestled between the snow-capped peaks of Lebanon's east and west mountainous ranges, the Bekaa Valley exists for millenniums and has been home for millions.
Today, in addition to its Lebanese inhabitants, the valley holds the temporary homes of over 300,000 Syrian refugees -each with families and children of their own.
An admirable group of people concern in the betterment of humanity has joined forces to brighten children's lives in the area.
Brought together by The Barça Foundation, of FCBarcelona, the men and women have been roaming the camps since 2016 and hosting football sessions for 1,300 children in six different parts of the valley.
Every weekend, from Friday to Sunday, the volunteers team up with the Cross Cultures Project Association to help entertain the children, discipline them, and instil the values of teamwork and hard work that the sport fosters.
With 40% of the coaches being female, a larger number of young girls have been participating and engaging in what-was-otherwise considered a boys' sport in this very traditional area of Lebanon.
Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 20-year-old Lebanese Karime Akrouche and seven other young female coaches use football to try to help the lives of children.
The ladies explain that this is not about finding the Middle East’s Lionel Messi. Rather, it is about the communal power of football, and its ability to smash down social barriers between people and cultures.
The initiative comes as part of Barça Foundation's international FutbolNet project. The project trains coaches around the world to deliver a sports-based curriculum while emphasizing to children the values that the football club holds near and dear.
According to a recent feature by The Guardian, over 1,300 children, both Lebanese and Syrian, in six different parts of the valley have already benefitted from the sessions.
Another 6,000 children, 75% Lebanese and 25% Syrian, receive FutbolNet in their school PE sessions. And there is a drive to expand to local schools where there is no physical education at all.