Syrian girls get help from Jordan and Hong Kong
By HOWARD HARDING, Squash Mad International Correspondent
On the eve of World Refugee Day, initiated by the United Nations in 2001, a unique effort to enable Syrian refugees to build upon their squash and educational support and participate in international squash events will be provided by the World Squash Federation.
Squash Dreamers is a non-profit initiative, conceived by Jordan-based American Clayton Keir, which is dedicated to training refugee Syrian girls in squash and English.
The WSF, with the backing of the Jordan Squash Federation, has welcomed these displaced Syrians – pictured above with coaches Reem Nyaz (left) and Hamza al-Zubaidi (right) – by giving them a route to participate in international events. In the absence of a Syrian squash federation, the WSF will create a neutral World Squash flag to enable them to enter such championships.
Furthermore, Hong Kong Squash has already agreed to sponsor these players to participate in the 2018 Hong Kong Junior Open by providing complimentary accommodation for four players and officials.
“We believe that sports and education can empower young women to rise above difficulties, improve their lives, and make positive impacts in their community,” explained Keir. “Through squash and English, we are offering these girls opportunities to enrol in or be recruited by prestigious academic institutions.
“In order to be recruited for their squash skills, the girls must compete in international tournaments and demonstrate their prowess on the court.
“We are grateful to both the World Squash Federation and Hong Kong Squash that the girls can now participate in a world-class tournament this summer.”
WSF President Jacques Fontaine added: “The World Squash Federation looks to provide all athletes with equal opportunities and a safe environment for training and competition. The refugee team’s participation in the 2018 Hong Kong Junior Open is just one example of what squash is doing around the world to reach this goal.
“As squash is bidding to be included in the Olympic Programme, the sport is proud to share the same spirit with the IOC when it comes to supporting displaced communities and assisting young people in their integration through sport.
“The combined efforts of Clayton Keir, Jordanian Squash and Hong Kong Squash means that these girls have an opportunity that until now they could only have dreamed of! We are happy to help all the way.”
David Mui, MH JP, the Chairman of Hong Kong Squash, concluded: “To echo the great initiative of Squash Dreamers, Hong Kong Squash is very delighted to welcome the junior Syrian Refugee players to our largest international junior tournaments ‘Hong Kong Junior Squash Open 2018’ held in this summer.
“We believe that this would not only be a great opportunity for the junior Syrian Refugee players to take part in a tournament and experience the city of Hong Kong but also help our Hong Kong and other Asian juniors to understand the key value of ‘Olympism’ – to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced. This all-win situation would be of great benefit to all parties involved that Hong Kong Squash would be honoured to be part of it.”
Picture courtesy of WSF