UN Refugee Agency and Foundation Occident Orient Organize Football Match in Rabat, Morocco20 July 2010
Rabat, Morocco – On Tuesday 20 July 2010, as part of a two-day mission to Morocco, Mr. Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, attended a football match of a special nature: a team of Moroccan youth challenged a team of Sub-Saharan refugee youth, respecting sportsmanship.
The match, which took place at the Maroc Telecom Stadium in the district of Agdal, in Rabat, was organized by the Fondation Orient Occident (FOO) in cooperation with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Supporters of the two teams were staff from the Foundation and the UN System in Morocco.
At the start of 2010, UNHCR and its implementing partner launched the initiative to coach refugee and migrant youth in football. “Given the challenges that Sub-Saharan refugee youth faces in Morocco, sport activities provide them with a wonderful platform to get engaged, free their energy, meet other youth and learn from each other,” said Mr. van der Klaauw, UNHCR Representative in Morocco.
Mr. Lemke expressed his strong belief in supporting disadvantaged youth and in using sport as a tool to foster social integration by explaining to the youth: “You don’t have to have the same background or speak the same language. Sport itself is a universal language and on the pitch everyone is the same!”
After the match, the Special Adviser congratulated the two teams for their great performance and concluded that “through sport, we learn to respect each other and to play as a team. Respect and team spirit, two values that are essential for creating a better world!”