Iraq has been devastated by years of conflict, and the province of Basra has been one of the hardest-hit. From the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, through the First Gulf War in 1990 and the Iraq War that began in 2003 to today’s sectarian conflict and the rise of Islamic State (ISIS), a deadly legacy of landmines, unexploded bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) kill and maim innocent children every day.
In this environment, it takes a special kind of person to devote their life to helping others. Abbas Fadhil Ubaid is one of those people.
“Spirit of Soccer allows our children to play safe by providing attractive soccer programs that help to pass on safety messages at the same time”.
Every day, Abbas faces a challenge to find a safe place for children to play where they can receive Mine Risk Education from Spirit of Soccer. He is also fighting constantly to provide opportunities for girls to join the program, as in many Iraqi communities people are reluctant to let their daughters and sisters play sports – even if it might save their lives.
Despite all these challenges, Abbas works every day not only to support his wife and three sons but to bring messages of hope and safety to the children of Basra.
“Spirit of Soccer has helped me to become a man with a mission” he says. “It has enabled me to go from seeing sport just as a hobby to something which can help save the lives of our children”.”My city of Basra is the most-contaminated area in Iraq, from landmines and unexploded bombs. These weapons are everywhere and are a daily threat to our children. My goal is to learn everything I can about football and how I can use it to deliver safety messages to our children in the most effective way”.We are proud and humbled to have passionate, brave people like Abbas as part of the Spirit of Soccer team.