Football is a common language to all and a great way to work towards peace. In March, Finn Church Aid (FCA) organised three regional football tournaments in Somalia to engage the local youth in peaceful coexistence.
The tournaments were organised in the regions of Sool, Sanaag and Mudug under the Somali Peoples Peace Initiative (SPPI) funded by the Somalia Stability Fund. Young people of conflicting clans from the districts were brought together to form a team and represent their district together. Participation was remarkable with 256 players joining the tournament from 16 districts.
During the tournaments, youth peace activists organised peace awareness raising events targeting both players and spectators with the aim of encouraging them to promote peaceful coexistence between their respective communities and districts.
The three tournaments were the first regional youth activities in the project to allow young people from various districts of a region to meet and compete in a peaceful way. They caught the attention of thousands of Somalian young people, not only in the targeted regions of the Peace Building project, but also in other regions of Somalia.
Through youthful play and healthy engagement, the targeted young people in the tournament clearly demonstrated that peaceful way of competing with each other, other than conflicts, can really be implemented in a successful way..
Local communities, regional authorities and the youth that participated in the tournament have praised the activity and requested its continuation in the future.
The regional youth peace tournaments were also noticed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Puntland and Somaliland as well as stakeholders (including civil society organizations and the traditional chiefs) of several regions not directly targeted by the project.
Representatives from other regions and from Somalian youth organisations have expressed their interest in organising similar youth peace tournaments.