Athletes rescue quake victims, collect donations in Syria
Sports activities in Syria were halted after the earthquake hit the southern region of Turkey and sporadic areas of Syria on February 6. This sector, like many activities and sectors, tended to help mitigate the severity of the disaster with the capacities available.
The earthquake and its aftershocks damaged the opposition-held cities and towns of northern Syria, as well as the regime-controlled Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, and Tartus governorates.
Sports cadres tended to participate in providing aid through initiatives to raise funds or relief materials or to participate in rescue operations for the victims trapped under the rubble.
The Syrian Football Association (SFA) decided to postpone its activities for all categories and sections due to the earthquake. The General Sports Federation has also announced that sports institutions, establishments, all cadres, sports teams, and volunteers will be placed at the disposal of administrative units to provide aid and assistance to earthquake-stricken citizens.
There has been no official decision to halt sports activities made by the Syrian Interim Government (SIG), which controls the countryside of Aleppo, or the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG), in control of Idlib, as declaring the area “stricken” from the first day of the earthquake and mobilizing all civilian and military personnel, was enough to stop the activities.
Athletes as “rescuers”
Sports personnel in the northern Syrian regions contributed to rescuing operations and recovered victims from under the rubble along with volunteer teams and civilians, amid appeals for support in terms of equipment and machinery.
Several Syrian clubs have organized donation campaigns; it opened its headquarters doors to receive food and relief items and send them on trucks to stricken cities, such as Aleppo and Latakia and delivered them to clubs’ stadiums that opened their doors to receive families affected by the earthquake.
On February 9, the head of the Aleppo General Sports Federation’s Executive Committee, Ahmad Mazen Bayram, announced the arrival of an aid convoy from Homs provided by al-Karamah and al-Wathba football clubs to the al-Hamdaniya football stadium without specifying the amount of the aid received.
Bayram told the local radio station, Sada FM, that the relief materials sent by the said football clubs and the people of Homs will be distributed to the affected families in the al-Hamdaniya Sports City.
The number of earthquake-affected people who took refuge in the headquarters of the Tishreen Sporting Club in Latakia has reached 300, according to what the club announced on Facebook on February 8.
The club said its board of directors took care of food, water, and medical expenses, as well as milk and childcare supplies. A day later, the club’s headquarters was declared closed as a shelter, and people were deported from the club’s headquarters to the sports city and official shelters due to the governorate’s desire to “identify shelters, serve them fully and unify efforts,” said the statement.
Sports facilities, including club stadiums, gymnasiums, and sports clubs headquarters in most regions of Syria, also received those affected by the earthquake and coordinated with volunteer teams and organizations to provide services and assistance available to them. Certain players launched donation initiatives for the benefit of the earthquake victims.
Local social media pages posted pictures of several stadiums, including the al-Hamdaniya Sports City in Aleppo, which opened its doors to families affected by the earthquake, while the Idlib Municipal Stadium was transformed into a center sheltering dozens of families.
The executive director of the Sports and Youth Directorate of the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) operating in Idlib, Muhammad al-Sibai, told Enab Baladi that the sports cadres were divided into teams in order to help the affected areas closest to their own whereabouts.
He explained that all sports facilities, whether stadium stands, stadium fields, or gymnasiums, have been converted into shelters, including the Idlib Industrial Stadium and another stadium in the town of Armanaz, noting that sports cadres continued to assist the affected people.
The sports hall in the city of Azaz, in the northern countryside of Aleppo, has been turned into a shelter for dozens of families. It has been designated for men, and a kindergarten facing it has been designated as a shelter for women and children.
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