Our partner organisation, ACADESAN, has harnessed the power of football to keep children and young people away from armed groups and illegal activities. This article explores the method and principles2 October 2023Read More
In August, Children Change Colombia (CCC) launched the Football for Peace project. This project is taking place in the Pacific region of Colombia and aims to support 360 children from nine communities of the Afro Colombian Council Acadesan. CCC has been working with the communities of Chocó and Valle del Cauca since 2019. This project will help these children develop socio-emotional skills, promote gender equality and improve their capacities to reject forced recruitment and gender-based violence.
Football and sport will help the children and young people connect with their communities, develop their critical thinking skills, encourage them to be empathetic and provide them with a deeper sense of belonging. Most importantly, it will provide these children with a safe and open space.
Why the Pacific region of Colombia?
The Pacific region of Colombia has been particularly affected by the armed conflict and child recruitment remains rife. Violence is a normality for children and young people here. More than 90% of all forced displacement victims reside in the Pacific region. Chocó in particular has historically been inhabited by people with Afro-descent and Indigenous communities, who have been disproportionately affected by the armed conflict in Colombia. Young people are often forced into armed recruitment, and in turn, 26% of children in Chocó do not attend school.
Our project ‘Football for Peace’ aims to expand resilience amongst communities in the Pacific region of Colombia to help prevent child recruitment in the area. It will provide them with a sense of belonging and offer them a safe space and an alternative to falling into armed conflict.
Women and girls are the group most affected by armed groups due to their use of sexual-based violence as a method of intimidation and coercion. Areas in the Pacific region of Colombia were heavily affected by the armed conflict, consequently leading to high poverty, inequality and violence. In 2022, 6% of 400 forcibly displaced women who reported sexual violence belonged to indigenous groups and 30% were of African descent. Unfortunately, many of these cases go unreported.
During the armed conflict in Colombia, violence against women was used as a sanction and a military strategy. This has been put down to the existing patriarchal order in Colombia and the gender norms that contribute to negative attitudes towards sexuality, body, honour and shame. ‘Football for Peace’ will help to tackle these gender norms within the communities and encourage empowerment.
This project will help to provide young women and girls with the skills to report incidents of sexual violence. As there is a huge focus on gender equality within our project, these concepts will help to tackle the lack of reporting of cases of sexual violence.
About the project
Children Change Colombia have partnered with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to achieve the goals of this project, using their sports for development methodology and their care routes to prevent sexual violence. Through their methodology, young people and children can learn values such as respect and teamwork through sport.
In the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it recognised ‘sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace’. The UN acknowledges the contribution of sport in encouraging tolerance and respect, and notably to female empowerment and the empowerment of young people. Sport is an effective communication tool in promoting peace and is effective in working towards the SDGs.
GIZ teams have trained 30 teachers and mentors, and will monitor the program and the impact of football on these young people. Five participants in the training will come trainers to ensure the program has the capacity to continue. Teachers will be trained in a variety of areas, such a children’s rights, leading football sessions, focussing on empathy, discipline and recognising, preventing and denouncing cases of sexual violence.
Not only will we focus on providing children and young people with these skills, we will also include parents, caregivers and community members such as teachers in our program ‘Football for Peace’. In total, we hope to have 630 direct beneficiaries and 1220 indirect beneficiaries over the course of the programme.
This project will encourage peace-building, promote gender equality and help to develop the social-emotional skills of young people in the Pacific region of Colombia. We will also raise funds to provide football kits and restore football pitches. With £30, we can give one child a full football kit and boots, £215 will pay to train five teachers on the prevention of child recruitment. A £450 donation will provide a whole team of children with football kit and boots and a £1,000 donation will allow us to restore a football pitch.