Transitional Demobilization and Reintegration Program
The Great Lakes Peace Cup: Uniting Communities around Football
July 2012
The Great Lakes Peace Cup Logo

On September 21 and 22, 2012, 60 young men from Uvira (Democratic Republic of Congo), Bubanza (Burundi), Kigali (Rwanda) and Gulu (Uganda), will gather at Makerere University Stadium in Kampala for the Great Lakes Peace Cup Final.

Over two days, amidst joyful peace celebrations, they will compete for the title of “Great Lakes Peace Cup Champion”.

For most of these football players, it will be the first time that they have left their homes, let alone their countries. Some of them will travel for two days before reaching Kampala. Their pride at having won the Peace Cup title in their respective national tournaments will now be strengthened by representing their countries at the regional final.

Uganda Peace Cup Banner

The teams are preparing for the finals by training as often as they can. The Peace Cup is their chance to shine.

Most important of all, the Peace Cup is their chance to build lasting friendships and continue pushing away the dark specter of intolerance and stigma lingering from past conflicts.

Football, the great equalizer

The four teams from Burundi, the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda are composed in roughly equal parts of young men from the community and of former combatants. The ex-combatants are either former military personnel (regular army) or former rebels from various armed groups. Some joined the ranks voluntarily, some didn’t.

Life trajectories so different, up until now.

On the football field, differences evaporate. All that matters is playing well, teamwork, scoring and winning. And, of course, having fun.

The past is behind them and they look forward to a future where they will have the chance of a better life.

In preparation for the finals, the team from Kigali trains three times a week.
In preparation for the finals, the team from Kigali
trains three times a week.

The teams won their ticket to the regional final by prevailing over seven other teams during national Peace Cup tournaments played between February and June 2012.

In Rwanda, the team from Kigali defeated Rusizi in a 5-1 game on March 2. Kigali was the first team to qualify for the finals. The Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) organized the tournament as part of its social reintegration activities. The RDRC already had experience in using sport as one of its tools to promote peace and reconciliation between former combatants and the communities in which they resettled.  Ahead of the big event, the team is currently training hard three times a week.

In Burundi, the team from Bubanza defeated the favorites from Bujumbura. To allow all provinces to participate in the tournament, the DDR project team in Burundi organized a preliminary round during which all 17 provinces were able to compete.

Two teams greet each other in a game in Bukavu, South Kivu
Two teams greet each other in a game in Bukavu, South Kivu

In the DRC, the tournament took place in the provinces of North and South Kivu, where there is a high population of ex-combatants. The security situation recently deteriorated again in North Kivu, with conflicts flaring up between the FARDC and various rebel groups active in the lush and mineral-rich region.

A young football fan in Gulu
A young football fan in Gulu

Despite such constraints, the NGO Caritas successfully organized the DRC Peace Cup in May and June. The final game took place at the Stade des Volcans (Volcano Stadium) in Goma, the players competing on the black earth so characteristic of the North Kivu capital.

In Uganda, the Peace Cup games drew large crowds in the four provinces where they took place, sometimes attracting more than 2,000 spectators per game. Betty Bigombe, Uganda Minister of Water and Environment, and a former negotiator with the rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army, presented the winning trophy and agreed that “sport… is a creative way of reconciling people”.

Peace Day

The team from Bujumbura finished second in Burundi, but they look just as happy as the winners.
The team from Bujumbura finished second in Burundi,
but they look just as happy as the winners.

The start of the Peace Cup final on September 21 will coincide with International Peace Day, adopted in 1981 by the United Nations and celebrated annually across the globe.

On that day, the UN invites nations and peoples around the world to cease all hostilities where there is conflict, and to raise awareness on issues related to peace.

The Great Lakes Peace Cup final will do just that: four countries, 60 players, and hundreds of supporters will celebrate peace through football.

 

***********

Great Lakes Peace Cup - The Ugandan Tournament June 2012 Slideshow from the Uganda Football Peace Cup May 2012 Interview Mentoring Mission Part 2 Photos of the Rwanda Peace Cup finals March 2012
VIDEO: Great Lakes
Peace Cup
The Ugandan Tournament
June 2012
PHOTOS:
The Uganda Football
Peace Cup
May 2012
PHOTOS :
The DRC Football Peace Cup
June 2012
PHOTOS:
The Rwanda Peace
Cup finals March 2012

 

 

↑ Back to top
QUICK LINKS