Today I’m feeling like Messi

Today I’m feeling like Messi

Moroccan kids travel for the 1st time in their lives

Imagine for a moment if you will, an eleven year old boy living in a small rural village in the mountains of Morocco, never leaving his village to travel to the nearby big town as his family doesn’t own a car and he can’t afford a paying seat to make the one hour journey.

Imagine that football is his passion and plays the game with his friends constantly on dusty stony ground in nothing more than tatty flip flops and he only manages a glimpse of his hero, Messi, on a neighbour’s TV every now and then.

So now imagine how he feels when he’s invited to represent his village in an organised football tournament held in the nearby big town Chefchaouen, to proudly participle alongside his friends in a newly built indoor stadium, playing in a brand new team strip and having his games refereed by a qualified foreign referee.

If you can imagine all this, you then have an idea of how it felt for eleven year old Mohamed from the village of Fifi, as he confided to his teacher “today, I am feeling like Messi”. It was the day he and his friends had travelled to Chefchaouen to take part in RifCom’s recent Under 12’s Football Tournament to represent his school and village, all expenses paid.

Creating community spirit through sport…

A total of twelve teams were invited to participate in the tournament including one team travelling from Gibraltar.

“This event was designed to create community spirit and foster village pride amongst players from underprivileged backgrounds and also provide an opportunity to deliver positive messages on health and local environment issues” explains Tom Cawthorn, RifCom’s Sport Liaison Officer and organiser of the event.

“By using sport in this way the RifCom team are able to promote their aims and deliver educational messages in a healthy, positive and most importantly, fun environment.” The tournament concluded with a presentation of trophies to the winning team and runners-up, with an additional Plate trophy also being awarded.

Each child received parting gifts of certificate, participation medal and gift bag and teams were allowed to keep their donated new strips. It was clearly an exciting and special event for the children who enjoyed it immensely, and RifCom intends to continue gaining trust and friendship with the impoverished but shy communities of the Rif, with further events such as this starting in Chefchaouen and rolling out to the villages over coming events.

Special thanks to trustees and team!

The RifCom trustees and team wish to thank all those who took part in the event with special thanks Tom Cawthorn, whose inspiration and drive made the event possible, to Abdelilah Aghzal, Anass Salhi, Association Sebannine and all RifCom’s friends in Morocco whose on-the-ground assistance is invaluable.

BMCRif (Barbary Macaque Conservation in the Rif) for their wonderful presentation and raising awareness regarding the decline of the Barbary Macaques in the area, the students of Khezzana school for their excellent piece of mid-tournament theatre.

Major sponsors Triple A Cleaning Services for their generosity and support and to other valued sponsors including Fulham Football Club, Orion Building Group, C & J Refurbishments, Lincoln Football Club, Ibex Insurance, Grafix Sign Centre, STM Fidecs and all the other supporters of RifCom whose fund-raising and help make these wonderful achievements possible.


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