Iraq is living through a period of violent ethnic and religious conflict. Many of its young population, 60% of Iraqis are under 25, lack positive opportunities. Yet research and experience shows that to prevent future violence and extremism, young minds need to be nurtured towards a positive role in civil society.
One of the few activities capable of unifying the whole population is football. This was shown when the Iraqi national team made up of dedicated professionals from all parts of Iraq won the AFC Asian Championship in the summer of 2007. Yet, the conflict has seen the complete destruction of grass-roots sports facilities and a widespread lack of youth
Team Iraq has begun to turn this situation around. It uses the power of football to bring together young people from all ethnic, religious and social backgrounds, through a number of football-related initiatives with emphasis on creating local youth led programmes to help develop and empower and ultimately employ young people.