Venetia van Kuffeler reports on the launch of the new Football for Peace campaign attended by various international footballers and the Duke of Cambridge
Football For Peace (FFP) launched the #FootballSavesLives initiative, which pledges to train 500 Young Peace Leaders by 2020, at FFP’s Peace Tournament on 22 November 2018 at the Copper Box Arena in London’s Olympic Park. The Duke of Cambridge attended the event, and the tournament brought together world-famous footballers and FFP Ambassadors Mesut Ozil, Louis Saha, Bacary Sagna, Mamadou Sakho, Carlton Cole, Cherno Samba and Avram Grant, with newly trained Young Peace Leaders.
Along with BT Sport, APCO Worldwide, Puma and various other prominent companies, Diplomat magazine was proud to be involved in the event that honoured the Young Peace Leaders from across the UK who graduated from the City for Peace initiative this year. Through this programme, FfP works in conjunction with local councils, football clubs and schools to train young people aged 15-18 in how to unite their communities on and off the pitch, from running local football tournaments to organising classroom workshops to discuss the issues currently dividing their communities.
On the day, The Duke of Cambridge attended a workshop on tolerance and team building, which was delivered by FfP tutors and attended by Young Peace Leaders. His Royal Highness then met the charity’s Footballing Ambassadors and students who took part in breaking down a wall with footballs in a message against hate and violence to support the #FootballSavesLives campaign.
“I am delighted that the #FootballSavesLives campaign, launched today, will see more of you trained to bring young people from across the country together. Football is not just a game. It is part of the fabric of this nation – providing a common interest and a unifying identity. It brings us together in the enjoyment of a simple pastime, without complication, but with plenty of passion!” the Duke of Cambridge said in his speech.
The #FootballSavesLives campaign selects 500 Young Peace Leaders from different faiths, cultures and backgrounds, teaching them football diplomacy and life skills. Each engages around 30 divided youth in their community, through running local football tournaments to organising workshops and discussions. The campaign will reach 15,000 young people across the UK by 2020, and results are set to include a reduction of youth hate crimes and violence, reduced isolation and increased confidence.
“With the #FootballSavesLives campaign, we want to encourage all football lovers and peace defenders to support our pledge to train the next generation of Young Peace Leaders to create more peaceful and tolerant communities across the UK. Under normal circumstances these schools wouldn’t mix, let alone play on the same teams. The country needs more integration activities,” says FfP co-founder Kashif Siddiqi.
Adding to this, Arsenal player Mesut Ozil said “I am proud to support an initiative which brings people together in the divided times we are living in.”
Football for Peace is a grassroots football movement with diplomatic impact, championing the power of the beautiful game to bring people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds together on the pitch, while fostering understanding and tolerance off it. Supported by international personalities including Ronaldinho and the Duke of Cambridge, Football for Peace organises Peace Matches – one-off football matches held annually around the world, to raise awareness of football diplomacy and promote a message of equality and peace. FfP also provides football and leadership training for youth from different faiths, cultures and backgrounds through a local community programme, Cities for Peace. Futbol Por La Paz (Football for Peace) was established in 2006 by FIFA and Chilean legend Elias Figueroa, and co-founded internationally in 2013 by British South Asian international footballer, Kashif Siddiqi.