Sidon inaugurates USAID-funded sports facilities
The Daily Star
SIDON, Lebanon: Residents of Sidon can now enjoy playing in more football fields, basketball courts and other sports facilities, all of which were inaugurated Thursday under a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Besides football fields and basketball courts, the “Sidon’s Stadium is for Everybody” project features spaces for children to play, a sports hall and a cafeteria, providing a much-needed outlet for inhabitants of the southern city.
The new facilities were constructed inside the Rafik Hariri Sport City on the northern entrance of Sidon.
Funded by the USAID as part of a five-year program called “Building Alliance for Local Advancement, Development, and Investment,” the project was implemented by Caritas under the supervision of the Interior Ministry and Sidon’s municipality.
USAID launched BALADI in September 2012, in a bid to encourage municipalities in cooperation with local non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, and members in the community to annually submit well-prepared and well-designed community projects for possible funding from the program.
Gathering at the stadium to celebrate the event were Sidon MP Bahia Hariri, a representative of former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Sidon Mayor Mohammad Saudi and a host of sports, religious and educational figures.
Delivering a speech, Hariri said that the project complemented the Rafik Hariri Sports City and reflected a comprehensive development strategy for Sidon.
“We are convinced that no development project will succeed if it is not part of a comprehensive strategy ... and this is what we’ve achieved in Sidon,” Hariri said.
The lawmaker touched on efforts by her late brother, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, to construct stadiums across Lebanon in preparation of the Asian Cup tournament which Lebanon hosted in 2000.
The Sidon Stadium, later named after the late premier, was one of the facilities that hosted the tournament.
MP Hariri also mentioned her brother’s efforts to reconstruct the Camille Chamoun City Sportive, which was inaugurated in 1998 to host the Arab Tournament the same year. Initially built in the 1950s during Chamoun’s presidency, the facility was destroyed by Israeli airstrikes at the start of Israel's invasion of Lebanon in June 1982.
For his part, Saudi thanked USAID for their help, noting that the project added to the recent achievements of the municipality. “The success of this municipal council in removing the waste dump after relentless efforts backed by the city’s two MPs and prominent figures opened the door for many other achievements related to sports, environment and unpolluted entertainment areas,” Saudi said.
Carolyn Bryan, USAID mission director for Lebanon, said that the project indicated that successful cooperation between the municipality and local community with the aim of achieving development would bring positive outcomes for society.