For the third year in a row, the organisation Football for Hope, Peace and Unity (FHPU), in collaboration with Team Rwanda UK, invited different members of the London football community to come together and play in a tournament to mark the UN’s International Day of Peace, 21st September. The event also raised funds that will go to organisations working to alleviate refugee suffering.
This five-aside tournament took place on Saturday 26th September and brought together eight teams. Inclusive in nature, old and young played alike, with Rwandans, Greeks, Spanish and many others coming together in our shared home of London. The event mirrored a series of One Day One Goal events that took part throughout Rwanda, organised by FHPU’s local partners.
An energetic and feisty tournament was soon underway, with each team playing up to seven matches of fifteen minutes. Despite the evident competition between the teams, the spirit of fair play, mutual respect and a solid sense of sportsmanship meant that referees were not needed for any games.
Football Beyond Borders (FBB) fielded a team for a third year running, with FBB Co-Director Tom Perez “delighted to be involved again this year”. He went on to explain that at “FBB we use football to inspire young people to achieve their goals and tournaments like this help people build confidence in themselves and in others – we are reminded of our common humanity and we celebrate this on the pitch. We had a team made up of five different nationalities and with the only female representative in the tournament – this shows the power of football to bring people together and make peace and mutual understanding possible.”
Director of FHPU and organiser of the event, Eric Murangwa Eugene took time at the end to emphasise the importance of sport in the promotion of peace and unity, underlining that coming together to play a sport we love helps boost our communication skills, our esteem and our sense of togetherness.
The tournament underlined that we can all contribute to a more peaceful world, whether it is forgiving a mistimed tackle or shaking your opponents hand after a loss. Importantly, the conflict resolution skills and compassion needed on the pitch help players shape healthy, peaceful relations off the pitch.
Humorously, Eric pointed out that despite everyone being a winner for taking part, there were some winners that had “won more” and everyone was thrilled as The Greeks were declared the “winning winners”, closely followed by Saturday Soccer FC. Special mention was made of the tournament’s one female participant and it is hoped there will be more females joining next year.
Leaving the tournament tired but happy, participants are already looking forward to next year’s event.
To learn more about FHPU’s work and how to get involved, please get in touch at email@example.com.