Former Chelsea captain Katie Chapman recalls the moment, in the Azraq refugee camp on the Jordan-Syria border in the desert outside Amman, when a boy showed her the orange tree he had made from paper.
“He wanted to remember that where he’d lived in Syria, there was an orange tree,” she says. “He used to pick the oranges, and they were delicious. They invented this tree, and all the oranges hanging from it in the arts and crafts room. I was, like, ‘Oh, my God’. There were stories to every piece of artwork.”
As a player, Chapman won most of the prizes it is possible to win in a glittering 22-year career. She was also, for most of that time, the only elite female footballer in Britain with children, and was a vocal champion of mothers’ rights in top-level sport.
Now 36, she is a club ambassador for Chelsea, and has just returned from three days in Jordan which, for more than 35,000 Syrians, has been home since the conflict, which began in 2011, forced them to flee. The orange tree hangs in the arts and crafts hut of Village Five, a closed camp for 9,000 refugees who escaped Isis stronghold areas. The skyline is dominated by high fences and inhabitants cannot leave “for security reasons”, says Chapman.
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