COVENTRY City are taking community spirit to a global level by forging a new inspirational link with a Syrian refugee camp in Iraq.
It may be a big week at home for the Sky Blues, who face Notts County in the league two play-offs on Friday, but the club has still found time to deliver its own version of sporting aid to the Middle East.
The club is championing how football can be a force for good around the world, even in extreme circumstances such as Iraq’s Darashakran refugee camp, built for 13,000 displaced victims of the ongoing Syrian civil war.
Sky Blues chairman Tim Fisher, who has visited the camp, is spearheading the bold initiative and the club has just flown out 30 large boxes of Coventry City football kit with a view to distributing them among the soccer-loving refugees.
The City chief explained: “I was terribly shocked by the conditions in the camp but was uplifted when I saw the positive impact football was having on the community.
“The United Nations clearly recognised the power of the ‘beautiful game’ and initially built a small five-a-side pitch in the camp to ensure that minds and bodies remain healthy.
“The refugees have responded by forming their own leagues and competitions but the one thing they can’t organise is the provision of kit and equipment.
“That’s where Coventry City decided we could play our part. As a community club, we wanted to support this effort and so assembled as much match-day and training kit as we could to send to Darashakran.
“We hope our initiative is also a very good way to once again highlight the plight of the Syrian refugees in Iraq and other camps and hopefully motivate others to follow our example.”
The City chairman first became aware of the camp while on a business trip to visit Ishik University in Northern Iraq.
He discovered staff and students at the university were regularly visiting the camp to provide free dental care and free education and went along with them to see the situation for himself.
Mr Fisher immediately decided he also wanted to help.
He added: “When I visited the camp, my heart went out to all of those Syrian people who have been forced to flee their country because of the war that’s raging there.
“They may be safe from the fighting now but the conditions in the camp are extremely challenging – to put it bluntly they are living in the most appalling conditions.
“But in the midst of all this deprivation a simple football pitch has become the camp’s focal point and has had a remarkable impact on the community.
“It is clear that the joy of sport combined with the thrill of football is providing much needed respite.”