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ElShorbagy & King visit inspiring Squash Dreamers refugees

Former World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy and former World No.3 Joelle King visited their old club in Bristol to surprise two girls from Squash Dreamers, a Squash for Development Organisation, to hear about their stories and how squash has changed their lives.

Squash Dreamers is an NGO based in Jordan dedicated to empowering young refugee and underprivileged girls through sports and education. They aim to educate and support them in accessing better-quality academic opportunities and achieving their dreams.

The NGO has looked to empower refugee girls from Jordan and surrounding countries through squash, fitness, English classes, homework help, and much more.

Daisy Van Leeuwen-Hill, Executive Director of Squash Dreamers, said: “We work with a lot of families who attend schools on shift systems who attend classes massively overwhelmed with kids, maybe like 50 kids per class.

“We support girls who are living in really tricky situations: financial situations, social situations to achieve better opportunities through scholarships.”

Fatima and Amal, both of whom sought refuge in Jordan to escape the ongoing conflict in Syria, are two girls from the programme who won academic scholarships to attend a boarding school in the UK based on their academic achievements in Jordan. Fatima wishes to be a psychologist in the future, and Amal wants to become a translator.

Squash Dreamers addresses the educational barriers many girls and refugees face in Jordan, providing a better future for their participants.

‘Always try your hardest, give it your all, and never give up,” Amal said on what motivates her.

Speaking after meeting Amal and Fatima, ElShorbagy said: “We learned a lot about them and from them. Personally, I feel very lucky to have met them. 

“It’s quite inspiring, with all the hardship they’ve [faced] that their faith is still there. It’s something I believe in in my life, personally. It was a unique experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

King added: “I would 100 percent agree. I didn’t really know what to expect from today but as Mo said, I think we’re both feeling very fortunate to have heard their stories. Seeing their smiles and how grateful they are for everything that Squash Dreamers, and squash in general, is bringing to them.

“I think we know we have a great sport but when you see stories like this coming out of it, it confirms everything we think about the sport and we’re both very lucky to have had this experience today.

“We’ve both followed the programme online, but to be face to face with the girls and actually see the results of what it is doing for them, changing their lives for the better, it has been amazing to be with them and laugh with them, speak with them and hear their stories. 

“I think sometimes as a professional player, you lose a match and think it’s the end of the world. But when you put it in perspective with some of the things that people go through in life, squash becomes quite minute. As Mohamed said, this experience is one I won’t forget and I hope that I can see these girls in ten years really following the dreams that they now have.”

Find out more about Squash for Development Organisations on the PSA Foundation website: psafoundation.com

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