Palestine Association for Children’s Encouragement of Sports (PACES), is a non-profit organization established in 2006, that provides healthy, structured after-school sports programs for Palestinian girls and boys ages 7-16 years living in refugee camps and most marginalized and vulnerable areas in Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon. During the last 10 years, the PACES have reached out and served over 30,000 children, 2000 coaches and over 200 local sport clubs. In addition to this amazing feat, they have successfully reached and maintain a 50% female participation rate in the same period.
PACES participation in the 2016 Norway Cup was aimed to expose the children to different cultures, meet peers and make new friends while playing football in an entertaining atmosphere alongside the 2199 teams and several thousand participants from around the world. Leen who is a PACES child recounted her tournament experience: “When I travelled to Norway, I met players, boys and girls from Jordan and Lebanon who were also representing Palestine and it was such a great experience traveling to a new country to represent PACES”.
The tournament was to give the children a break from the unfair environment under which they live and offer them the possibility to experience cultures which encourage freedom and inclusiveness. Equally important to why the PACES chose to participate in last year’s tournament was to give the children the opportunity to apply what they have learned and cultured through the program, act as ambassadors for their home countries and convey a positive image about their local communities.
The PACES in 2016 came with 4 teams (2 boys’ teams and 2 girls’ teams), played 22 matches, won 14 games, and scored 119 goals. This was made it possible by the 46 children that participated with respect, integrity and dedication. This year will be the 6th time the PACES are participating in Norway Cup as two PACES teams from Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon will show us all the positive impact the organisation has had on children. The players are very excited to experience different cultures, meet peers, make new friends, and play exciting football in a fun environment.