The ball brings people together and generates playful and sporting instances that channel passions, challenges, dedication, joys, identities and relationships. By playing, those who confront their skills understand each other and, by talking, they manage to mediate conflicts in order to be better people in better societies.
This is how Fundación Fude – Fundación Fude para el Desarrollo and the Fútbol Callejero Movement show that mediation for peace can come in the form of a ball, a conversation and agreements to respect them.
“Soccer was the only place where people did not settle their conflicts with violence, but was a space for peace,” said Fabián Ferraro, director of Defensores del Chaco, in Argentina, which in the 1990s started what would later become Fútbol Callejero with a worldwide presence.
Several alternative World Cups, in parallel to those of FIFA, have been organized with the Fútbol Callejero methodology, which includes a first half of agreements, a second half of the game itself and a third half of reflection.
For Roberto Artavia, president of VIVA Idea, soccer should be used as a tool for change. “It is not only in any square in any street in any part of any community in the world, but it also occupies a very important place in people’s consciousness. So the convening power it has makes it an instrument of enormous potential. And when soccer can be combined with values, with inclusion, with participation, then it becomes a powerful engine for social integration,” explained Artavia.
The Second Meeting of Mediators for Peace and the Street Soccer Festival: La Carpio is Transformed was attended by young people from Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, who organize themselves around the methodology of street soccer in search of improving environments and creating opportunities for socially marginalized youth.
“It is a space for learning and exchange where girls and boys have the opportunity to take away tools for better work in their communities,” explained Eric Cháves, founder of Mapa Social, who participated in the event.
The belief that soccer can also be used to educate, generate social integration and move towards the search for sustainable futures has led both AVINA Foundation and VIVA Idea to collaborate on several occasions with organizations in different countries that promote this methodology.
For FUDE’s director, Rebeca Thompson, “with Street Soccer, young people are built as local leaders with the capacity to influence their territorial environment, thanks to the fact that its practice is an integral exercise in citizenship, dialogue and mediation for social and cultural exchange in their own communities,” she explained.
Taking the ball to the streets and with it the conversation about a better future, peace, dialogue and sustainability and social progress in more equitable societies is the objective that guides the organizations involved.