Playing for Peace; Soccer my Saviour
22nd October 2016
Organised byKing’s College London / Arts & Humanities Research Institute (AHRI) and chaired by the passionate Dr Zoe Norridge, last night’s Playing for Peace event began with a screening of filmmakerKyriEvangelou’sdocumentary Soccer my Saviour. Recounting Football for Hope Peace and Unity (FHPU) founder Eric Murangwa Eugene’s experiences and survival of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis, Soccer my Saviourpassionately illustrates the ways in which sport has the potential to change lives for the better. Born out of the strength of the bonds between teammates that didn’t break even in the face of horrific violence, FHPU is a driving force in using football to foster ties, promote compassion and unite Rwandans in Rwanda, the UK and beyond.
In the engaging panel debate that followed, we heard first from director Kyriand his experience of filming with Eric who then took to the floor to expand upon the film. Professor John Sugden, a leading international expert and long-term practitioner of Sport for Development and Peace (SDP),gave a wonderful account of his experiences in the field; beginning in the 1980’s with the founding of Belfast United, widely deemed to be an SDP pioneer, through to the longstanding Football 4 Peace programme that works in several divided societies around the world.
Whilst working for a year in Sudan and as the sole owner of a pair of football boots, John happened to play for theSudanese team Al-Hilal; an inspiring coincidence given that Al-Hilalwas the team that Eric’s Rayon Sport beat in the 1994 African Cup Winner’s Cup! Indeed it was this match that provided many Rwandans with a brief moment of respite from the divisive and increasingly violent politics of early 1994 and showed once again how football can bring people together.
Southampton student and Football Beyond Borders (FBB) youth leader KelvynQuagrainewent on to give an uplifting account of his own experiences of using football to give positive direction to the lives of children and young people in London and Southampton. Helping people overcome negative perceptions, of themselves and others, Kelvyn emphatically evidenced the power of football to enable positive change.
Informed and considered questions from the audience saw the panel candidly discuss the current politicisation of the game as well as the negative side of sport and the challenges SDP programs can have, particularly in gaining acceptance from all sides of the community.The discussion drew to a close highlighting the importance of working with all levels of the community and gaining grassroots support.
Saved by football and saving others through football, this event clearly demonstrated the capacity for sport to be used as a tool to unify, educate and inspire, whether in challenging perceptions in South London or bridging post-conflict divides on a pitch in Kigali – and most importantly that we can all get involved!
The panelists included:
Eric Murangwa Eugene is a former football player and coach. He is the Founder and Director of two post-conflict charities: Football for Hope, Peace and Unity and Survivors Tribune. Eric is also a survivor of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
KyriEvangelou is the Director of Soccer My Saviour. His documentary projects have taken him to Palestine, Kenya, Egypt and most recently Rwanda, where he also works with the Aegis Trust.
John Sugden is a leading international expert on sport and peace-building in divided societies. An award-winning author and Professor of the Sociology of Sport at the University of Brighton, he is Director and co-founder of the university’s Football for Peace programme.
KelvynQuagraine is a Southampton University student and Football Beyond Borders (FBB) youth leader. He has participated in training sessions run by Football Beyond Borders for young people in some of London’s most deprived estates and schools.
Zoe Norridge is Senior Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature at King’s. In 2014 she presented the award winning BBC documentary Living with Memory in Rwanda.
Playing for Peace — Soccer my Saviour event was attended by a number of people including a representative of the Rwandan High Commission in the United Kingdom and members of the Rwandan community in the UK as well as friends of Rwanda.
Amongst the notable guests in the audience there was also Mr Nick Gates the founder of FHPU’s main partner Coaches Across Continents (CAC) . FHPU in collaboration with CAC have been working together since 2014 to develop ways that enables the Rwandan community to use football as a means of promoting social cohesion, nation building and improve the quality of life of all Rwandans. To this day PlayforHopeRwanda20 coaching programme has been able to coach over 600 local community coaches and impacting thousands of children across the country. Going forward FHPU plan is to start a new programme “FHPU Sports Academy” designed to offer high quality training for professional sports coaches equipped with the skills and knowledge to teach/coach about behaviour and attitude as well as sport skills for both men and women across Rwanda. The aim is to build a network of coaches capable to deliver social values and sport skills which will contribute towards having a sport community-led and achieve the following outcomes;
• Social Community Development
• Individual Development
• Physical and Mental Wellbeing
• Professional Sport Skills
• Economic Development
What they said:
“Football in Rwanda is not just a game — It’s A Story of Colonial Power, Political struggle, Friendship & Solidarity… for over 100 years football in Rwanda has been used in two ways; a divisive tool and a community building tool. Through FHPU’s work we have decided to focus on highlighting ways in which football can be used as a tool for community transformation. For me Soccer My Saviour is an opportunity to share my personal journey and the central role that Football has played in my life and how this translates into how Football has affected every part of life for many Rwandans ever since it was introduced in Rwanda in 1920s and the role it has played in rebuilding and reconciliation PROCESS of the Rwandan society so far since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi”, Eric Murangwa Eugene.
Eric also said: “I want to find a way to make sure the political side is interested in advancing the importance of sport for the right thing.”
“I found the discussion afterwards to be complex, engaging and very honest; there was a huge amount of energy in the room at the end.” Dr Zoe
For more information on Football for Hope, Peace and Unity please visit www.fhpuenterprise.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org