“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite in a way that little else does.” –Nelson Mandela
What do sports have to do with development? More than you might think. The World Bank sponsored a screening of “Scoring for Peace,” a film about the power of soccer as a means to promote reconciliation in communities and nations that have experienced large-scale violence.
Watch the trailer here:
The documentary follows Ismael, Safari and Okello, three soccer players who are competing in the Great Lakes Peace Cup. This tournament, organized by the World Bank’s Transitional Demobilization and Reintegration Program (TDRP), helps ex-combatants in the African Great Lakes region transition to civilian life. The final four teams from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda include both civilians and former soldiers, some of whom joined the rebel forces voluntarily – while others were abducted and forced to fight.
Okello, a player from Gulu, Uganda, alluded to the potential for sports to help individuals and communities recover from conflict: “I feel very happy to participate in the Peace Cup. My teammate Zar, I pass the ball to him, he passes it to me. I don’t see him as an ex-soldier.”
The panel at the World Bank, which featured South African Ambassador to the United States Ebrahim Rasool and “Scoring for Peace” filmmaker Sarah Farhat and executive producer Aki Stavrou, discussed the power of sports in development and international security.
They identified athletics and sporting events as a way to engage in soft power and promote peace in fragile communities. Ismael, one of the players from Burundi featured in the film, joined the rebels at age 12 because his family couldn’t provide him with food at home – a clear indication of how underdevelopment and the inability to fulfill basic human needs leads to insecurity and violence on a broad scale.
The World Bank is strengthening its emphasis on sport, youth and development across the continent. They have encouraged FIFA and other athletic organizations to get involved and help make sports accessible to communities at-risk of widespread violence. Learn more about the tournament and documentary on the “Scoring for Peace” website.