DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A Dallas family has given children across the world a gift they’ll never forget, thanks to the universal language of soccer.
Taly Haffar says he was watching television late one night when he saw the story of a man who had defected from Syria while playing for the country’s soccer team.
“He went to a refugee camp in Turkey,” said Haffar.
The story showed how the man went from owning three homes to staying in a tent with his wife and three children. The man now teaches soccer to the children who also live in the camp.
The story struck close to home for Haffar. His family has deep ties to Syria and Turkey and he helps coach his daughters’ soccer teams.
“I talked to the girls and we decided we needed to do something to help,” he said. Haffar contacted the news producer behind the story, who put him in touch with the player-turned-coach. “They wrote back saying they would love anything we could send them.”
Friends and fellow soccer players in the DFW area pitched in to buy new equipment for the refugee children. Haffar’s daughters used a “how to” book to write encouraging messages in Arabic, and drew pictures to include in the care package.
The package arrived this week; an unexpected gift for children whose lives have been torn apart by war. “I was hoping that they would finally feel how other people feel,” said Lily Haffar. “I wanted them to feel just like us.”
It’s a lesson Haffar hopes his children will remember, and a long-distance friendship he hopes to continue.
“Regardless of nationality, what language you speak, soccer is universal,” said Haffar. “If you know how to kick a soccer ball, you can make a connection.”