When Hasan L Haffar was about 6-8 years old, he remembers passionately wanting to be part of a sports club. But his parents didn’t have enough money. So when he sees little children in the streets playing football with a plastic bottle, risking getting run over, he has a pretty good idea what they might be thinking:
”Oh, how I wish I could play for real!”
Maybe it’s because he remembers how he felt himself, when he was their age. Either way he hates seeing children not being able to do what they want due to circumstance.
”It makes me sad, and I want to do everything I can to help these kids to a better life. And here, at GAME, I can make a difference,” he said.
Watch video from GAME Democracy Makers
Hasan L Haffar, 19 years old, lives in Beirut, Lebanon, and is part of the project GAME Democracy Makers, which is supported through the Middle East Youth Pool, administrated by ActionAid Denmark. At GAME, children and youth get the opportunity to play street sports and at the same time learn about the values of team play, democracy, and tolerance. Especially important are the so called playmakers. Playmakers are young people like Hasan, who volunteer to coach and play with children and youth. In Beirut it’s typically fugitives, children from poor families or otherwise marginalized youth who come to GAME.
”They don’t demand that I be a full-on professional coach. They only demand the chance to have fun. And not have to feel bad for a little while,” Hasan L Haffar says.
GAME Democracy Makers
Is a project which gives you the opportunity to participate in street sport and at the same time learn more about tolerance, democracy, and conflict resolution.
Involves young, so calle playmakers, which can be describes as a cross between youth coaches and democratic role models, who support and guide the participants in GAME sports activities.
Is supported through the Middle East Youth Pool, which ActionAid Denmark administrates as a part of the Danish Arab Partnership Programme.
Lebanon went through a long and grueling civil war, which, although it ended in 1990, still leaves clear marks on the country, where tensions between different groups are always present. Now, along with the war in Syria, has come refugees by the hundreds of thousands, and it puts tolerance to a tough test in Lebanon. It is, among other things, these tensions, Hasan L Haffar and the other playmakers try to work out with the young participants, he explains.
”There is quite a bit of racism and conflict, especially among children and youth. Here, we teach them that they have to play together, no matter where they’re from. We talk about the need to create room for everyone,” he says.
It can be an eye-opener for the children, if they are put on the same team as someone from another country, Hasan L Haffar explains. Or if a boy finds out that a girl is actually better than him at playing basketball.
Hasan L Haffar is finishing his last year of what amounts to high school. He has his final exam in a few weeks. After that he plans to go to university and study particle physics, he says. His engagement with volunteer work will no doubt continue, even though he might find himself busy with physics books, he states with confidence.
”Our society is rife with challenges: Racism, religious extremism, poverty, and so on. It won’t just magically get better by itself. It takes hard work in civil society. The government can’t solve all of the problems.”