Salah Rahman Sports Foundation
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It is impossible to understand the Kurdistanis without knowing something about their painful history. In the late 1980s, nearly 5,000 Kurdish villages were destroyed by Saddam's regime and some were attacked with chemical weapons. Tens of thousands of people were deported to the deserts of southern Iraq, and many disappeared or were found buried in mass graves.

In 1991, just after the Gulf War ended, the Kurdistanis rose up against Saddam, but were brutally suppressed. They fled to the high mountains, where many suffered from exposure and disease. So the British and American governments established a 'safe haven' to protect them. The people of Kurdistan started to restore their shattered lives from 1991, but continued to live in fear and uncertainty until 2003. Today, the Kurds are enjoying peace and stability, and are working hard to give their children a better life.

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Sport in the Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Children and young people in Kurdistan love sport, even though many don't have access to proper facilities or equipment. Most children and teenagers play football on bare patches of dirt. Very few schools have playing fields, let alone gyms, courts or sports equipment.

Football is the most popular sport. Many people support famous teams like Manchester United and Real Madrid. When they have the chance, they love to watch foreign teams' football matches on satellite television.

Girls love volleyball, which is the number one women's sport in the Kurdistan Region. Basketball and netball are popular too, but there aren't nearly enough facilities for people to use. Coaching is also neglected, with few people having access to proper training.

While they have enthusiasm to spare, they often don't have the encouragement, equipment or coaching to enjoy sport as we can in our own countries. Sport brings communities together, is character-building and of course is great for all-round health. With your help, the people of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq can start enjoying all the benefits of sport too.

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About the Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Map of Kurdistan

The Kurdistan Region is in northern Iraq. Similarly to Scotland and Wales, it has some autonomy from the central government in Baghdad and has its own regional government and parliament. The three provinces that make up the Region are called Erbil, Suleimaniah and Dohuk.

The Kurdistan Region is much safer than the rest of Iraq: not a single coalition soldier has been killed there. Tens of thousands of Kurdistanis suffered under Saddam's regime, and they were grateful when foreign forces removed him from power.

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Who lives there?

About three and a half million people live in Kurdistan. They are mostly Kurds, as well as Christians (Assyrians and Chaldeans), Turkmen and Arabs. These people from different ethnic backgrounds live peacefully alongside each other in the same towns and cities.

The people traditionally live on farming, but now many live and work in the Region's growing cities.

Because Kurdistan is much safer and more stable than the rest of Iraq, the people can start to focus on improving their daily lives and planning for their future.

Some basic facts and figures about the Kurdistan Region in Iraq


40,643 square kilometres


3,579,916, 13% of Iraq's population

Capital City:

Erbil (also known as Hewler)


Kurdish. Turkman and Assyrian in some areas.

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