By William Milasi
ZIMBABWEAN youths Saturday took part in a “kick the international ball of peace”, a sports based global event held to emphasise the power of sport in fostering unity and building peace across physical, mental and emotional borders.
The event was organised under the auspices of Generations for Peace (GPF), a “peace-through-sport” organisation recognised by the International Olympic Committee.
Various communities in the country participated in the international event.
The Jordan based non-profit making organisation has a history of using sports based games to empower youths to build peace and transform conflicts across tribes, religions, races, ethnicities and nationalities.
GPF engaged over 500 youths in nine countries with “Get the Ball rolling 2019,” an international series of football games that united diverse youths to celebrate International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP).
Seventeen simultaneous matches Saturday began across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
In Zimbabwe, the events took place in Harare, Zvishavane and Kwekwe.
Mark Clark, Generations for Peace CEO, said the event acts as a catharsis for youths who have been scarred by the effects of violence.
“Generations for Peace believe in the enormous potential of youth to lead positive change in their own communities and in the power of sport as a universal language to unite those who are faced with division and violent conflict every day.
“As part of our long-term programming in these communities, Get the Ball Rolling 2019 was an opportunity to reflect the values of Generations for Peace and to celebrate the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace in a truly global sense.
“Across nine countries and three continents, the simultaneous football games involved not just our trained pioneers, volunteers and participants, but also engaged local community members, demonstrating these values and encouraging anyone to build peace and pass it on,” he said in a statement from his Jordan base.
The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace is an annual day recognised by the UN and celebrated its sixth year on Saturday, 6th April 2019.
The day serves to raise awareness of the potential of sport to contribute to global objectives for development and peace due to its vast reach, unparallel popularity and foundation of positive values.
The organisation is founded and chaired by HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein and is dedicated to sustainable peace building and conflict transformation through sport, arts, advocacy, dialogue and empowerment.
Zimbabwe GFP Pioneer Ephraim Katongo said Zimbabwe has for a very long time experienced serious violence amongst the youths.
He added that the peace event help youths to deal with the country’s volatile situation.
“Zimbabwe has for many years faced challenges when it comes to social cohesion and transforming violent conflicts among youths.
“Get the Ball Rolling 2019 was a great opportunity to address to address those challenges and many others around the world, providing a safe space through sport where local youth could unite, crossing mental and emotional borders they face every day and recognizing that they are not alone. This event, like all Generations for Peace programmes, highlighted the power of youth to lead us toward a more peaceful feature, if we only provide with them with the opportunities and empowerment they need to do so,” he said.
In addition to its renowned Sport For Peace programming, the organisation also uses arts, advocacy, dialogue and empowerment tools, addressing challenges of gender inequality, post-conflict trauma response and reconciliation.