Nurturing peace, unity and reconciliation among young Rwandans through sport

If it was not for the courage and sportsmanship of his team mates, Eric Murangwa would not have survived the genocide that rocked his country in 1994. Football saved the young man’s life when his team mates from the Rayon Sports football club hid him in their houses for several weeks — differences in ethnic origins being of no matter to them. However, this act of camaraderie would cost some of them their lives.

Today, the former sportsman runs his own organisation, collaborates with a number of others and has developed a strong belief that sport, and football in particular, has the power to impact society in a way that little else does. He founded the organisation Football for Hope, Peace and Unity, also known as FHPU, in 2010, and which uses sport and football as a tool for social change and reconciliation in the Rwandan community.

“FHPU was a result of everything that has happened to me,” explains Eric Murangwa. “I wanted to make sure that the important lessons that I’ve learned from sport would be passed over to young generations.”

Through FHPU, Murangwa works with more than 15 organisations throughout Rwanda to run sports programmes for local young people, such as the Dream Team Football Academy set up in collaboration with the Association of former Rwandan Football Players or the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village — a centre for underprivileged Rwandans. The objective: to foster ties between those affected by the genocide and to create a legacy of reconciliation for generations to come.

“I really want to improve the life of the youth here in Agahozo,” says Programme Director Jean-Claude Parisien. “Sport is one tool that helps us to make them feel happy, feel at home and also to make them build their future.”

In the face of adversity, sport is playing its part in helping to rebuild the nation. The Secretary General of the NOC of Rwanda, Philbert Rutagengwa, says: “Sport is a special pillar for the unity and reconciliations of Rwandans.”

Watch the video here to see how sport is helping to foster peace.

This year’s International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) is an opportunity to highlight how sport can help unite people and encourage a culture of peace, build trust, self-belief and establish bridges between groups in conflict. Contributing to building a peaceful and better world through sport is a fundamental principle contained in the Olympic Charter and the Olympic Movement implements countless sports activities aimed at driving social change every day in every corner of this world.

Join the movement at #sport4betterworld

Learn more about the IDSDP at www.olympic.org/idsdp


Originally published at www.olympic.org.

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