20/5-2020Blog post from Jordan: First ever online Playmaker Camp

By Ali Haddad, GAME Jordan Country Representative and Executive Director in JYIF

Going the extra mile
The corona-crisis quarantine is devastating for the whole world – GAME Jordan including. As all activities in GAME Jordan was closed down due to COVID-19 and all Playmakers, children and staff confined in their homes, GAME Jordan decided not to give up. Together with the Playmakers, we decided to go the extra mile, and come up with new ideas to adapt to this situation, so we can keep the Playmakers and children active and healthy and also strengthen their sense of belonging to a positive community.

The international pandemic of COVID-19 has been affecting nations since the beginning of this year, and Jordan is not excluded. Jordan was among the first countries in the region that applied a strict curfew on all its citizens, which has helped in lowering the growth rate of COVID-19 cases in Jordan, hence ‘flattening the curve’, a term that media uses to indicate that a country is able to control the situation in this pandemic.

The concept of ‘home learning’ and ‘distance working’ was widely adopted to keep life going. This applies for any activity that involves learning and meeting with other people online, something that would be hard to implement on sports, which requires physical attendance. But this is a challenge that we decided to take on.

Online meeting turned into a new idea
Here in GAME Jordan, we decided to utilize the available resources and use digital tools to reach our volunteers and keep them active. It all started with online meetings, using the Zoom software to get in touch with the Playmakers and discuss how the curfew is affecting them, suggesting home practices, and just exchanging happy thoughts. This led us to think about expanding the experience and organize a ‘virtual’ Playmaker Camp.

Usually, Playmaker Camps are training courses held for the volunteers in GAME to educate them on GAME’s methodology, and to train them on the basics of street sports and other activities, empowering them to become role models in their communities. This activity involves physical activities and training sessions, and the decision to move it online is not as easy as said.

In the following points, I will demonstrate how the idea of the first-ever ‘Virtual Playmaker Camp’ was realized.

Playmakers included in the planning
We started by brainstorming with the Playmakers to get their feedback on the idea and how they would feel about doing such an activity online. The feedback was positive, and everyone was excited about it. We collected their ideas on which topics and pieces of training to include, with a collaborative effort from Playmakers and Zone Managers who volunteered to cover the sessions, then we came up with a rough schedule.

After discussing the program, and distributing the tasks, we agreed on the program including the GAME methodology and empowerment, the Sustainable Development Goals, refugees in Jordan, staying healthy and active during corona.

Testing the idea
Such a new concept that has never been implemented, required some testing prior to the actual implementation. We held an online conference using Zoom software to test the quality of the video call, and the method to handle large numbers of participants. This test included around 35 Playmakers and Zone Managers. And we managed to run it successfully, this was an indication that the idea was going to work. During this session, we discussed the topics and the role of each speaker.

The Implementation
The online event was set on Friday, 1st of May 2020, at 13:00 Amman time. The Zone Managers were responsible for distributing the meeting link and password to the participating Playmakers in each zone, to ensure no interruptions by any intruders.
The first 20 minutes was dedicated to the Playmakers to chat and catch up. Then we started the event by announcing the start of the online Playmaker Camp and setting the house rules of how we would run the sessions, and how the participants could raise a hand and talk. This was a collaborative activity, and everyone needed to respect the program to maintain a high-quality event.

We kicked off the camp by introducing JYIF and GAME to the participants and explaining the methodology of using sports as a tool for inclusion and social change. After that, coach Ala’a (Mugabalin Zone Manager) started with some warm-up exercises, where she demonstrated the practices, and the Playmakers participated.

Both Playmakers and external speakers
Next sessions was held by external speakers who joined to share their experience in certain topics.

Mr. Trad Almasri from the International Youth Ambassadors Foundation IYAF talked about sustainable development goals and how to reflect on it in our activities.

A session on the refugees’ situation in Jordan, and how we can work with refugee children in the sports activities was held by Mr. Abdulrahman Zurgan, who is working for the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, and a former Communication and public information associate at Zaatari camp.

Our own coaches Raneem (Khalda Zone Manager) and Hala (Irbid Baladi Court Zone Manager) led talks about staying healthy during COVID-19, nutrition and how to safely organize activities for kids during the weekly practices.

The last session was organized by Anas (Jarash Zone Manager) who talked about the #GAMExHOME campaign, and the role of social media challenges in keeping youth engaged, starting a dialogue on how to create new ideas for GAME Jordan to engage young people even more.

The virtual camp was concluded with the participation of 70 Playmaker and Zone Manager with emphasis on the importance of social distancing and staying safe.

I consider the first ever online GAME Playmaker Camp a succes, both in the immediate effect in actually educating the Playmakers to run ‘live’ practices for children as soon as the quarantine is over. But also as an important learning on to how to use digital technology to reach our goals and to involve Playmakers and strengthen their youth leadership.

Takeaway Tips
• It is important to conduct virtual meetings for each GAME Zone prior to the event to overcome the problems, so the participants can learn how to deal with Zoom. We found that the ones who tried it earlier adopted it easily.
• Involve the participants, make them pick topics and lead sessions. They will be more involved and contribute to the content.
• It is very important to assign a technical person to solve and fix any problem, and it should not be a speaker or a moderator.
• Timekeeping and moderating are important to be handled by someone to introduce the speaker and help him/her through the session, and to answer the questions from the chatbox.
• The 20 mins break at the beginning helped very much in warming up the participants and fixing their technical issues before we started.
• Set up a private Zoom meeting for the camp with a password to protect the camp from unintended show ups.
• Think about ice breakers and be creative, for example, collect pictures of Playmakers when they are kids, then screening the picture in the Ice Breaker and let them guess. This way we can remove the barrier created by the distance an online forum creates.
• Breaks are important, 5-10 mins every 1 hour, you can also have coffee or launch breaks (we had to remove that because its Ramadan and everyone is fasting).
• Include media content (videos, photos, presentations) to keep the participants engaged and focused.
• Have lots of room for Q&A after each session to make the sessions work as a dialog – then everyone can take part.

GAME Jordan is a partership with the organization Jordan Youth Innovation Forum and is supported by the Danish-Arab Partnership Program.