By Reuters Staff
CAIRO (Reuters) – An Egyptian sports academy is looking for
the country’s next big football star among orphans and street
children, hoping to give them a shot at improving their lives.
Founded by former professional football (soccer) player
Tamer Begato, Children Without Shelter organizes matches between
young boys willing to demonstrate their football skills before
asking them to join the academy.
“I started observing stories of the young children and how
their whole dream was to become a hero or champion. They were
taken with becoming a football champion,” Begato said.
“I felt that through football I can bring out a talent
inside a boy, without him already knowing he has the talent. He
could become very big in football, or a any other field.”
Funded by Begato, the academy was founded this year and now
trains over fifty children between the ages of 8 and 14.
While the training is largely focused on football skills and
tactics, children also receive behavioral and psychological care
in hope to eventually help them integrate into society.
“There has to be psychological support and rehabilitation
before they start playing football (full time)” said
psychologist and trainer Ghada Abdelrahim.
“They could play football but the main goal and
psychological comfort for the child would not be achieved. This
is what we work on in our program,” she added.
According to the United Nations there are around 150 million
street children around the world, and a 2014 study by Egypt’s
National Institute for Social and Criminal Studies estimated
that there are more than 16,000 street children in Egypt, a
country of more than 95 million.