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A PLACE FOR THE YOUTH IN BEIRUT

Imagine a place where Beirut’s diverse youth can meet to play street sports, socialize, and get their first experience as volunteer leaders? And with an entrance fee of only 500 LBP, so everyone can get a chance to play.

This is the vision of GAME – a Danish non-profit with a Lebanese branch and a goal to unite young people across divides through sports. Last week a delegation of City Council Members from Beirut Municipality visited Copenhagen, Denmark, as part of the city partnership established last year between the two cities.

The goal of the partnership is to share knowledge and inspire to make the cities smarter, resilient, and more live-able. The official program included a visit Tuesday at GAME’s first indoor street sports facilities. Located in an former tram depot they learned and tested on their own body what impact such an accessible and flexible indoor public space for sports can have in Beirut.

“An anniversary is a good time to pause and reflect. Over the past 10 years we’ve reached more than 10,000 children and youth through our weekly basketball, football, and dance activities in Lebanon. But the need out there is much bigger. With a central accessible facility in Beirut we would be able to lower the barriers for participation and get even more young people engaged in physical activity,” says GAME Lebanon’s Country Director Ibrahim Hourani.

The NGO signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the City Council last year, and the newly elected council has decided to follow through on this. As a natural next step it is now time to search for buildings and lands suitable for the purpose.

“We are happy to have the support of the Municipality. Finding the right place for a street sports facility for the youth is now the top priority. The place will be a safe third place between school and home for both boys and girls. It will help many young people stay active and out of trouble,” adds Ibrahim Hourani.

The right building to be refurbished for street sports hasn’t revealed itself yet. This is why GAME would like to get in touch with readers or entrepreneurs with knowledge or ownership of vacant buildings in Beirut. Anything from desolated industrial buildings, rooftops of parking garages or even vacant lots may do. Long-term contacts are preferred, but in case this is not an option, a plan b is to set up a makeshift facility with street sports equipment, which can easily be moved to a new location if the premises are intended for a different purpose.

For more on GAME Lebanon check out gamelebanon.org or write to info@gamelebanon.org.