THE plight of the millions of Syrian refugees has been well documented, but this past week saw a group of 10 of them fighting back!
A team of male and female fighters from the Al Azraq Refugee Camp participated in the Al Hassan Open Taekwondo Championship in Amman, showing that despite the challenges sport can triumph and bring a sense of pride back to people in their most desperate times.
The camp’s Taekwondo Academy was launched in 2016 by the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) in cooperation with the Jordan Taekwondo Federation and the Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC).
And this past week the team became the first to compete at a world individual sport level in Amman.
“It’s was a historical participation and so important for these players to show the world that they are wanting to compete with the best despite their situation,” said Academy Manager, Farah Al Asa’ad.
The Academy was officially opened by World Taekwondo Federation (WF) President, Dr. Chungwon Choue, who pointed out the vital role it will play in the lives of the Camp’s young.
It trains over 150 players regularly, all of whom picked up the sport from scratch.
Asef Subah coaches the fighters and said that the number has grown significantly over the past three months.
“The Academy is a big part of their lives now,” he said. “They are training very hard to accomplish their dreams and competing in the Al Hassan Championship was like a dream come true for them. “They have so much passion and dedication and their experience here will help them in the future, without a doubt.”
Sixteen-year-old Wael Faraj became the first black belt at the Refugee Camp and is already making a competitive impact. “It helps me to face all the challenges,” he said. “Now I have this strong connection with Taekwondo and I will fight to compete in the next Olympic Games that will be held in Tokyo 2020.”
The team won five medals in the Al Hassan Championship including one gold, one silver and three bronze.