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Celebrating Peace with Soccer


Celebrating Peace with Soccer

Mercy Corps is organizing soccer matches in more than a half-dozen countries to celebrate Sunday's International Day of Peace.

The agency is answering the call from Peace One Day, a UK-based organization that in 2001 helped convince the UN to designate a day each year to promote peace. This year, its "One Day One Goal" campaign aims to see soccer matches take place in all 191 UN member nations on Sept. 21.

Around the world, Mercy Corps uses sports to promote health awareness, accelerate psychological healing and promote integration between different groups.

As part of Peace Day celebrations, Mercy Corps field offices have organized the following matches:

Colombia: In the Caribbean coastal city of Cartagena, where many Colombians have been displaced due to the country's long-running civil war, acute poverty and crime serve as the backdrop for many children's lives. Youth often replicate the violence they see, and fights between kids from neighboring barrios is common. On Sunday, some of the youth who normally fight each other will come together to play a game of football.

India: Gorkhas, Bengalis, Biharis, Tibetans, and other ethnic groups populate the tea-growing hills of Darjeeling. Recent political change has created a sense of uncertainty over whether these groups can continue to peacefully coexist. To support the concept of unity in diversity, Mercy Corps will host a "Football for Peace" match that includes students from eight schools and varying ethnic backgrounds.

East Timor: A team comprised of United Nations staff will take on a team of local residents at the Democracy Soccer Field on Sunday. The UN team consists of players from various cultural backgrounds, while members of the Timorese team hails from different districts of Dili, where Mercy Corps works with youth to promote peace and economic opportunities.

Iraq: Local Arab, Kurdish and Turkoman youth will meet in Diyala Governate — on a grass football pitch that Mercy Corps laid as part of our community-development efforts.

Uganda: The Pader district suffered greatly at the hands of the marauding Lord's Resistance Army, which terrorized northern Uganda for a generation. Today Mercy Corps is helping residents move safely back into their old routines. Youth there will take part in a football game as part of a peace summit Mercy Corps is organizing next week.

Visit Flickr to see photos from the matches after they take place.


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Mercy Corps


Saturday, September 20, 2008 - 09:00

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