Photo: Live Grinden.Photo: Live Grinden

Promoting peace through football

The link between soccer and the Philippines might not be clear cut. And what is the relation between soccer and peace? The answer lies with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).


'1 Goal for Peace'

In 2004 OPAPP declared September to be the peace month of the year, with the aim to create greater awareness of peace and the peace process in the Philippines. The National Peace Consciousness Month is now in its 9th year, and the focus of 2012 is on the individuals. With the slogan “I am for peace” each Filipino is encouraged to make their own contribution to peace.

 

This year the kick-off, literally speaking, was held at the football field in Philippine Sports complex in Pasig, September 2. Present were Secretary in OPAPP, Teresita Q. Deles, officers from the Philippine National Police, involved NGO’s, President in the Philippine Football Federation, Mariano Araneta, the Norwegian Embassy, and last but not least, 400 children from impoverished communities in the Manila area.

Also providing the event with momentum was the Philippine National Team, the Azkals, who held a football clinic where they taught football skills to the potential new generation of players.

The Azkals were present as Peace Ambassadors. Here posing with Okstad and his son, for the occasion dressed in the Norwegian national team's jersey. The Azkals were present as Peace Ambassadors. Here posing with Okstad and his son, for the occasion dressed in the Norwegian national team's jersey.
 ‘Handshake for Peace’

Deputy Head of Mission, Knut-Are Okstad in his inspirational message introduced the concept ‘Handshake for Peace’, which is an agreement made between the Norwegian Football Association and the Nobel Peace Center this year. ‘Handshake for Peace’ involves the captains of opposing teams shaking hands after the match. This is a symbolic presentation showing that irrespective of the outcomes of the match, the teams will leave the field as partners, not enemies.  Okstad challenged The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) to adopt this concept in their matches.

Photo: Norges Fotballforbund.Photo: Norges Fotballforbund

The president of PFF, Mr. Mariano Araneta responded quickly to Okstad’s challenge, and announced the immediate implementation of ‘Handshake for Peace’ in the Philippines. This will find its effects in the coming Peace Cup September 25-29 in Manila, Araneta said.

Sport for Development

Sport is recognized by the United Nations (UN) as an important tool for psychological and sociological development. Being a unique way to reach children, sport can have the potential to develop human capital through skills, knowledge and personal attributes. In the Philippines soccer has become increasingly popular with the representation of the Azkals, and a UNICEF organized visit from Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham last year.

- The time for peace is now, let’s score a goal for peace, said Secretary Deles in her speech.

Adopting the strategies of UN, through the means of football, OPAPP believes that children can cooperate and play together despite cultural and religious differences. Thus, the aim for the '1 Goal for Peace' event was the promotion of peace to the younger generation.

- Football is the biggest sport in the world, Azkal midfielder Misagh Bahadoran said, pointing to the potential in reaching the masses through the popularity of the sport. He and his team mates are declared the title ‘Ambassadors of Peace’ during this year’s peace month.

Kick-Off

After ceremonies the kick-off of the National Peace Consciousness Month 2012 was officially held, where the 400 children lined up in the middle of the field to form the peace sign, while officials simultaneously kicked footballs, and Azkal players released peace doves.

 

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Did You Know?

The FIFA Congress 2012 committed to a partnership on ‘Handshake for Peace’ with the Nobel Peace Center. The new procedure with the shaking of hands after the match will be implemented in all upcoming FIFA competitions, including the FIFA Club World Cup in December, next year’s FIFA confederation Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.