By Kitab Unango
The Whitaker, Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) in collaboration with the South Sudan Football Association has launched a two-year sport program for young South Sudanese living in the Protection of Civilian Site (PoC) in Juba.
Supported by the Swedish Lottery, the project aims to promote peaceful coexistence within and between the displaced and the host communities.
The project activities which includes training both male and female football players, couches, and referees, also integrates peace and reconciliation skills to enable beneficiaries become peace agents before they exit a decade living in internally displaced camp.
“The war in our country has polarized communities even up to the level of family”, said Bush Buse, WPDI Coordinator in Equatoria said “There is need to bridge the widened gap and bring people to live together in peace and harmony”.
Speaking during the launch of the project on Monday, Mr. Buse said “The sports for peace project will expose the participants to the varieties of South Sudan cultures, become tolerant and peace loving citizens after leaving the comp”.
Besides intra and inter football tournaments, the project will build talents and capacity of young South Sudanese footballers, provide sports equipment as well as peace and reconciliation skills.
The Coach of South Sudan Football Association, Peter Wani emphasized the importance of sports in promoting peace and unity among communities, calling on the PoC youths to embrace football to achieve lasting peace in the country.
“South Sudanese needs peace and sport is one way of achieving the peace we need”, Mr. Wani said, promising to deliver necessary sports skills to the participants to become professional footballers in the country.
The PoC currently holds more than ten thousands displaced persons mainly women, children and elderly group who lived in the camp for more than ten years since December 2013 civil war. They and thousands others living in displaced camps across the country have yet to exit due to protracted conflict.