A football match with a difference
On 22nd June this year, Jesuit Missions partner Jesuit Refugee Service facilitated the coming together of two secondary schools in Yambio, South Sudan to play a football match for peace.
Abangite College and King’s College played under the names Unity F.C and Peace F.C, designed to bring the local youth and communities together, after months of conflict between armed rebel groups and government forces which has led to a large displacement of population. According to JRS South Sudan, there are currently 178, 600 internally displaced persons in the South Sudanese state of Greater Western Equatoria, of which Yambio is the capital.
Over one thousand people gathered at St Mary’s Park in Yambio to join in the atmosphere and enjoy the football match. As well as the match itself, during half time there were messages of peace from different peace actors and agencies in Yambio and the participants were taken through topics such as causes of conflict, theories of change and the importance of listening and effective communication.
The JRS Peace Program Coordinator, Mr. Benjamin Matondo said, “the gathering here today shows that we are committed to bringing peace in Yambio and to South Sudan. This event also shows how young people can mobilize and promote peace in the community.”
Young people were encouraged to be peace ambassadors carrying the messages back to their communities. One of the participants said, “I am happy to have come to listen to the message of peace. As youth, we need to be at the forefront to bring peace in our communities.”
South Sudan has been struggling through a civil war for the last five years, which started just two years after its independence from Sudan. However, a peaceful nation begins with small steps such as this local football match which brought people together in a sense of common unity strengthening local ties and social networks.
This article was adapted from Jesuit Refugee Service Eastern Africa.