Building peace through sport
Building peace through sport
With a few days to go until Peace Day, 21 September, the African Union and Peace One Day, an NGO dedicated to the promotion of global peace, have partnered with the goal of uniting the African continent through football.
On 21 September, communities across the continent will be pulling out their team shirts andvuvuzelas for the second time this year, as they come together to unite in the spirit of Peace Day. These community-led football matches will unite Africans, young and old, from North to South, East to West, with the aim of promoting and contributing to conflict resolution and peacepeace-building on the continent.
“Sport plays a critical role in peace building, enabling children, women and men in broken societies to share a common language and a spirit of fair play that transcends divisions and despair that are the consequences of conflict,” said Ramtane Lamamra, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security.
The power of football to unite and inspire was visible throughout Africa’s first FIFA World Cup,hosted this year in South Africa. The continent’s unified support for the tournament and love of the game overwhelmed many of the issues that often challenge Africa’s peace and stability.
The One Day One Goal initiative, created by Peace One Day with the support of PUMA. Peace, aims to see football matches played in every country of the world on Peace Day. Last year, over 700 matches took place in 200 countries.
Jeremy Gilley, Founder of Peace One Day, said: “One Day One Goal matches celebrate cooperation,unity and the power of football to bring people together on Peace Day. This year, we want to instigate hundreds of matches across Africa, celebrating football’s power to unite the continent in this year of the inaugural African World Cup.” The African Union has enlisted a number of Peace Ambassadors to encourage public participation in Peace Day activities, which, in addition to the One Day One Goal football matches, include a one?minute silence, peace lessons in schools, and various cultural events.
“Football is a magical game, with an extraordinary capacity to move people and unite communities.It teaches cooperation, teamwork and solidarity while striving for a common goal, both on and off the pitch,” said Michael Essien, Peace Ambassador for the 2010 Year of Peace and Security in Africa.
Essien is one of a number of professional sportsmen endorsing the Year of Peace and Security and the One Day One Goal initiatives. Others include Abedi Pele, Sadok Sassi and Rabah Madjer, former international football stars.
The African Union and Peace One Day invite everyone on the continent to organise or participate in a match or tournament on Peace Day. Information on Peace Day and how to organise a community match is available on Peace One Day's website. Further information on the Year of Peace andSecurity in Africa can be found here.