21 October 2016

streetfootballworld is uniting former F.A.R.C. guerrillas and civilian victims to overcome the scars of 50 years of internal conflict in Colombia through a common passion: football. The project is training 48 civilian victims and former F.A.R.C. guerrillas to conduct football programmes focused on peace and reconciliation. The newly trained peace leaders will give more than 4000 young people a safe place to play, learn and interact.

 

In light of current political events in Colombia, football remains a constant and vital tool for fostering peace within communities. With the support of the German Federal Foreign Office, the Football for Peace and Reconciliation project is tackling one of the greatest challenges facing communities across the country: the reintegration and reconciliation of former guerrillas and victims of war.

 

“Giving civilian victims of war and former guerrillas new responsibilities as ‘Peace Leaders’, allows them to forget what side of the conflict they were on and helps change the way they see themselves and how they are seen by community members”, explains Football for Peace and Reconciliation project manager Ana Arizabaleta.

 

Football for Peace and Reconciliation is being implemented in six communities affected by Colombia’s conflict: Barranquilla, Medellín, Puerto Tejada, Bogotá, Soacha and Santa Marta. In each community, inclusive sport training programmes as well as “Football for Peace and Reconciliation” festivals are taking place to engage victims, former guerillas and the wider community in innovative methodologies promoting peace and reconciliation. Ultimately, a digital platform will be developed, where information on the methodologies will inform the work of sports associations, policy makers, media, universities and citizens across the country.

 

The project is unique not only in the fact that it is bringing former guerrillas and victims together, but in that it is using football to do so. Three local organisations, Fútbol con Corazon, Colombianitos and Tiempo de Juego, are working in their communities with the generous support of the German Federal Foreign Office to prove that regardless of events in the political sphere, the peace process will continue to be driven forward by passionate individuals working on the ground.

 

“It is more important to train a human being than a footballer”, notes Juan Betancour, a peace leader and victim of the conflict. “Every time that you train a young person you are building the peace we all dream of.”

"Giving civilian victims of war and former guerrillas new responsibilities as ‘Peace Leaders’, allows them to forget what side of the conflict they were on and helps change the way they see themselves and how they are seen by community members."

Ana Arizabaleta
Project Manager: Football for Peace and Reconciliation
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