Friday, January 23, 2009

Come and play the beautiful game in Al Dayr

The children of Al Dayr, north of Basra, Iraq now have properly constructed playing field thanks to the coalition forces based in Basra, and what better way to open the pitch than a local football tournament?

A badly worn pitch used by hundreds of children, which was very often unplayable after rain, and always uneven and awkward to play on, was situated on the town’s outskirts.

Using money taken from the UK Commanders Contingency Fund the village was gifted a new playing field. The pitch was raised in height to stop flooding in the winter and allow an all year round playing surface.

‘The work improving the pitch has allowed football to be played all year round and give the town of Al Dayr a focus to come together, whatever their background or age’, said the Head Coach, Mr Baasim Kareem Hamaizy.

‘The development of the seating surrounding the pitch and the goals has made it feel like a real football pitch’, one of the players said.

In terms of giving the town a focus and somewhere to go and play the benefits are easy to see, allowing all of the tribes and all age groups to come together and play the beautiful game.

‘This is an amazing day for the people of Al Dayr. The new pitch will see 40 different teams of all ages and tribal backgrounds use it; there will be at least two matches everyday. All the people are truly grateful for all that has been done’, Mr Baasim Hamaizy said.

The pitch was officially opened by Staff Colonel Walled and Sheikh Sarad Farid who cut the ribbon and declared the pitch ‘open for sport’.

The turnout of over 200 people on the day is just the start of a project that enhances life in the area.

Both the ISF and the Al Dayr Emergency Police Battalion were present throughout the event, providing assistance and security in another positive sign that Iraq is capable of standing on its own two feet.

Local dignitaries commented on how pleased the local people were that the British had helped them.

‘We were only assisting the Iraqi people to help themselves. The provision of the football pitch was a gift from the Iraqi people, for the Iraqi people’, said Capt John Gordon who helped Mr Baasim organise the event.

The prize giving saw the winning team presented their trophy by the Commanding Officer of 52 Brigade Military Transition Team, Lieutenant Colonel John Price, 1 Yorks, who was sat with the Iraqi dignitaries throughout. Prizes were given to the runners-up team, the man of the match, the officials and all the locals that assisted in the event.

The Al Dayr Municipal Directorate, Mr Adnan Jassim said, ‘Today has been a huge success and it is great to see so many happy children being able to play the sport they love.’

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