I promise this will be the last mass email regarding the Hope Tour’s Baghdad programme. But I believe that we have managed to achieve considerable success due to our decision to work with locals and empower young Iraqis to be more involved with their communities.
In one week, we have seen 11 FC unity events, distributed 2,000 England footballs shirts, 200 Iraqi football shirts, 50 tracksuits, 200+ footballs and 40 US little league uniforms donated by the Kick for Nick foundation, in memory of fallen US solder PFC Nick Maderas. We have told his story to hundreds of young Iraqis and the story and the memory of this brave soldier and his desire to help Iraqis lives on in the heart of our young people. His father, Bill Maderas is copied on this email.
On the final day, one of our programme assistants, Hamza Qureishi visited the Mohammed Risan football school in the impoverished Sadr City district and distributed football shirts to over 200 young Iraqis, both girls and boys between the ages of 6 and 16. The event was a great success. Unfortunately due to security concerns I was advised not to attend. Pictures of the event are attached.
Together with the Baghdad PRT we planned to host a football game between US and Iraqi troops, like we did previously in Najaf with great success, but due to logistical and security concerns the Iraqi troops could not make it.
However, in the spirit of FC Unity, the US troops, who came all the way from Camp Victory, were given England shirts and played a 40-minute game. We thank the troops for supporting the Hope Tour. Pictures are attached.
At the Al Karkh football club, the director of Salam School, where we hosted and event on Monday, Jamal Ulaibi organised a mini tournament for very young players and given the US little league uniforms. We are awaiting the pictures from that event and they will be included in our Programme report in January.
The last event of the Hope Tour Baghdad this year took place back the national Shaab Stadium, where the Baghdad derby was taking place between Al Zawraa and Al Talaba. In front of 20,000 fans FC Unity was announced, and myself and former Iraqi football player Abbas Rahim threw shirts to the crowd. Over 100 football shirts were given out at this event. Pictures are attached. Apparently we made quite a few news channels, as this took place during the game.
After the reception we got during the Hope Tour Baghdad programme, and after all the press coverage, we will be continuing the programme with more events in January and February ’09.
During this last week, we have been supported by some of Iraq’s best know former footballers, Ammou Baba, Sharar Haydar, Abbas Rahim and more and we managed to include and involve Iraqis from almost every district of Baghdad.
In total, around 2,000 young people took parts in the festivities.
FC Unity will produce a full report with pictures which will be available in January ’09.
I would like to thank the continued support of the US Department of State, the US Embassy in Baghdad, the Baghdad PRT, Kick for Nick Foundation, the British Foreign Office, the England Football Association and DHL.
With best wishes,