A Common Goal
Syrian refugees are learning English through soccer, thanks to a unique initiative in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon.
On a Tuesday afternoon in the west of Ireland, a Syrian teenager juggles a football.
He is wearing a Bayern Munich jersey, with the name of Dutch winger Arjen Robben on the back.
However, ask Abdul who his favourite player is, and he does not hesitate to select the Egyptian who has lit up the English Premiership this season.
"It's my dream to meet Mohamed Salah," he says with a wide smile.
Football's worldwide appeal is clear. In Ballaghaderreen, they are learning it is a language everyone can speak.
English language tutorials for Syrian refugees take place every Tuesday afternoon in the clubhouse of Ballaghaderreen FC. The content of each class is focused around football.
Although the English class kicks off in the clubhouse, it will be followed by a football coaching session in the local community park.
Words and phrases the refugees have been taught in the classroom are incorporated into various football drills led by FAI coaches.
"These people arrive here with absolutely nothing but the clothes on their back. It's hard for them to adapt to a new country. So for us to offer them a small thing - just a game of ball - makes a big difference. And if they are using the words they learn in the classroom on the pitch, we hope that they find it easier to integrate."
"We are doing whatever we can do to help them settle in and integrate. Football helps in a lot of ways because it doesn't matter what nationality you are or what language you have. If you know how to kick a ball you can mix and get involved, which will help no matter what community they end up living in."