November 12, 2020

Harnessing the power of sport for peace and reconciliation

Community leaders explore the power of leveraging sport as a tool for inclusivity, peacebuilding and unity.

November 12, 2020

Harnessing the power of sport for peace and reconciliation

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Community leaders explore the power of leveraging sport as a tool for inclusivity, peacebuilding and unity.

In this conversation, a select group of community leaders from Afghanistan, Bolivia and Rwanda discussed the power of sports as a tool for education and reconciliation. The founder of Las Superpoderosas, the first and only football academy for girls in Bolivia, and the founder of the Ishami Foundation, which uses football to promote reconciliation in post-genocide Rwanda, highlighted the importance of education through play and the power of sports to break down silos.

Play as an effective entryway for education

Eric Murangwa Eugene, a former Rwandan footballer, is the founder of the Ishami Foundation, which uses football to promote reconciliation in post-conflict Rwanda. The Foundation focuses on boys and girls working together to help its team, consisting solely of girls, to win. This collaborative effort teaches equity by allowing girls to feel their power and teaching boys that a girl’s success is everyone’s success. Carmen Pozo Rios, the founder of Las Superpoderosas, explained that she had facilitated silent football games’; coaches and spectators are not allowed to talk and only the players are allowed to communicate with one another. This rule allows the female athletes autonomy, eliminates negative feedback, and teaches spectators to support through their presence alone.

Empowerment and courage have ripple effects

As well as being the captain of the first Afghan Woman’s National Soccer Team, Khalida Popal was the first female board member of the Afghanistan Soccer Federation. In this position she handled finances,but found that men refused to take their pay cheques from her hand simply because she was a woman. Though she could have passed the cheques along to a man in the organization to give to the unwilling employees, Khalida stood firm, insisting that she would not relent to their disrespect. She reasoned that, in demanding respect for herself, she would open the door for women in the future to be more respected, not just in their work but in their wider community as well. She paved the way for ten more women to join the federation, and it is now conventional for women from the team to join the federation once they retire from football.

Partnerships strengthen the reach of peacebuilding work

Khalida shared that organizing in some rural regions of Afghanistan poses high security risks. The women soccer players cannot announce their training and tournaments on social media because they could be targeted. The initiative partners with schools and clubs in local communities to spread their work through word-of-mouth. In this way, she has created an underground network of people supporting her work. In Rwanda, the government supports post-genocide reconciliation work. It has for example amplified efforts such as that of the Felicite Rwemalika’s Association of Kigali Women in Sports, which uses female participation in football to build self-confidence and social support among poor rural women.

Khalida Popal

Khalida Popal is the former captain of the Afghanistan Women's National Soccer Team. She is the founder and director of Girl Power Organisation where she uses sports and education as a tool to educate and empower women and girls. She is the youngest and first female board member and leader of the women's soccer committee at the Afghanistan Soccer Federation.
Afghanistan

Khalida Popal

Khalida Popal is the former captain of the Afghanistan Women's National Soccer Team. She is the founder and director of Girl Power Organisation where she uses sports and education as a tool to educate and empower women and girls. She is the youngest and first female board member and leader of the women's soccer committee at the Afghanistan Soccer Federation.
Afghanistan

Khalida Popal

Khalida Popal is the former captain of the Afghanistan Women's National Soccer Team. She is the founder and director of Girl Power Organisation where she uses sports and education as a tool to educate and empower women and girls. She is the youngest and first female board member and leader of the women's soccer committee at the Afghanistan Soccer Federation.
Afghanistan

Khalida Popal

Khalida Popal is the former captain of the Afghanistan Women's National Soccer Team. She is the founder and director of Girl Power Organisation where she uses sports and education as a tool to educate and empower women and girls. She is the youngest and first female board member and leader of the women's soccer committee at the Afghanistan Soccer Federation.
Afghanistan

Khalida Popal

Khalida Popal is the former captain of the Afghanistan Women's National Soccer Team. She is the founder and director of Girl Power Organisation where she uses sports and education as a tool to educate and empower women and girls. She is the youngest and first female board member and leader of the women's soccer committee at the Afghanistan Soccer Federation.
Afghanistan

Khalida Popal

Khalida Popal is the former captain of the Afghanistan Women's National Soccer Team. She is the founder and director of Girl Power Organisation where she uses sports and education as a tool to educate and empower women and girls. She is the youngest and first female board member and leader of the women's soccer committee at the Afghanistan Soccer Federation.
Afghanistan

Carmen Pozo Rios

Carmen Pozo Rios is a pioneer of female sports journalism in Bolivia. She had her own TV sports program called Las Super Poderosas that featured Bolivian sports practices, and now has a sports magazine that does the same. Her platforms have covered four Olympic games, Pan-American games and sports across South America. She is also the co- founder of the first and only soccer academy for girls in Bolivia where they empower young girls and provide invaluable community for young female athletes.
Bolivia

Carmen Pozo Rios

Carmen Pozo Rios is a pioneer of female sports journalism in Bolivia. She had her own TV sports program called Las Super Poderosas that featured Bolivian sports practices, and now has a sports magazine that does the same. Her platforms have covered four Olympic games, Pan-American games and sports across South America. She is also the co- founder of the first and only soccer academy for girls in Bolivia where they empower young girls and provide invaluable community for young female athletes.
Bolivia

Carmen Pozo Rios

Carmen Pozo Rios is a pioneer of female sports journalism in Bolivia. She had her own TV sports program called Las Super Poderosas that featured Bolivian sports practices, and now has a sports magazine that does the same. Her platforms have covered four Olympic games, Pan-American games and sports across South America. She is also the co- founder of the first and only soccer academy for girls in Bolivia where they empower young girls and provide invaluable community for young female athletes.
Bolivia

Carmen Pozo Rios

Carmen Pozo Rios is a pioneer of female sports journalism in Bolivia. She had her own TV sports program called Las Super Poderosas that featured Bolivian sports practices, and now has a sports magazine that does the same. Her platforms have covered four Olympic games, Pan-American games and sports across South America. She is also the co- founder of the first and only soccer academy for girls in Bolivia where they empower young girls and provide invaluable community for young female athletes.
Bolivia

Carmen Pozo Rios

Carmen Pozo Rios is a pioneer of female sports journalism in Bolivia. She had her own TV sports program called Las Super Poderosas that featured Bolivian sports practices, and now has a sports magazine that does the same. Her platforms have covered four Olympic games, Pan-American games and sports across South America. She is also the co- founder of the first and only soccer academy for girls in Bolivia where they empower young girls and provide invaluable community for young female athletes.
Bolivia

Carmen Pozo Rios

Carmen Pozo Rios is a pioneer of female sports journalism in Bolivia. She had her own TV sports program called Las Super Poderosas that featured Bolivian sports practices, and now has a sports magazine that does the same. Her platforms have covered four Olympic games, Pan-American games and sports across South America. She is also the co- founder of the first and only soccer academy for girls in Bolivia where they empower young girls and provide invaluable community for young female athletes.
Bolivia

Eric Murangwa Eugene

Eric Murangwa Eugene is a former Rwandan footballer and survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Because members of his team (Rayon Sports) saved him during the genocide, he was aware firsthand of the power of football to be a positive force for social change. Eric founded the Ishami Foundation that uses football to serve the Rwandan community and promote reconciliation both in the UK and in Rwanda. Eric is an accomplished speaker and facilitator, and was awarded an MBE by the Queen in recognition of his services to the community.
Rwanda

Eric Murangwa Eugene

Eric Murangwa Eugene is a former Rwandan footballer and survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Because members of his team (Rayon Sports) saved him during the genocide, he was aware firsthand of the power of football to be a positive force for social change. Eric founded the Ishami Foundation that uses football to serve the Rwandan community and promote reconciliation both in the UK and in Rwanda. Eric is an accomplished speaker and facilitator, and was awarded an MBE by the Queen in recognition of his services to the community.
Rwanda

Eric Murangwa Eugene

Eric Murangwa Eugene is a former Rwandan footballer and survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Because members of his team (Rayon Sports) saved him during the genocide, he was aware firsthand of the power of football to be a positive force for social change. Eric founded the Ishami Foundation that uses football to serve the Rwandan community and promote reconciliation both in the UK and in Rwanda. Eric is an accomplished speaker and facilitator, and was awarded an MBE by the Queen in recognition of his services to the community.
Rwanda

Eric Murangwa Eugene

Eric Murangwa Eugene is a former Rwandan footballer and survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Because members of his team (Rayon Sports) saved him during the genocide, he was aware firsthand of the power of football to be a positive force for social change. Eric founded the Ishami Foundation that uses football to serve the Rwandan community and promote reconciliation both in the UK and in Rwanda. Eric is an accomplished speaker and facilitator, and was awarded an MBE by the Queen in recognition of his services to the community.
Rwanda

Eric Murangwa Eugene

Eric Murangwa Eugene is a former Rwandan footballer and survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Because members of his team (Rayon Sports) saved him during the genocide, he was aware firsthand of the power of football to be a positive force for social change. Eric founded the Ishami Foundation that uses football to serve the Rwandan community and promote reconciliation both in the UK and in Rwanda. Eric is an accomplished speaker and facilitator, and was awarded an MBE by the Queen in recognition of his services to the community.
Rwanda

Eric Murangwa Eugene

Eric Murangwa Eugene is a former Rwandan footballer and survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Because members of his team (Rayon Sports) saved him during the genocide, he was aware firsthand of the power of football to be a positive force for social change. Eric founded the Ishami Foundation that uses football to serve the Rwandan community and promote reconciliation both in the UK and in Rwanda. Eric is an accomplished speaker and facilitator, and was awarded an MBE by the Queen in recognition of his services to the community.
Rwanda

Felicite Rwemalika

Felicite Rwemalika uses female participation in football to build self-confidence and social support among poor rural women in Rwandan society. Through the Association of Kigali Women in Sports (AKWOS), she uses women's participation in sports to challenge the cultural and historical status quo, demonstrating their ability to improve their lives and develop their communities. She is also an Ashoka Fellow.
Rwanda

Felicite Rwemalika

Felicite Rwemalika uses female participation in football to build self-confidence and social support among poor rural women in Rwandan society. Through the Association of Kigali Women in Sports (AKWOS), she uses women's participation in sports to challenge the cultural and historical status quo, demonstrating their ability to improve their lives and develop their communities. She is also an Ashoka Fellow.
Rwanda

Felicite Rwemalika

Felicite Rwemalika uses female participation in football to build self-confidence and social support among poor rural women in Rwandan society. Through the Association of Kigali Women in Sports (AKWOS), she uses women's participation in sports to challenge the cultural and historical status quo, demonstrating their ability to improve their lives and develop their communities. She is also an Ashoka Fellow.
Rwanda

Felicite Rwemalika

Felicite Rwemalika uses female participation in football to build self-confidence and social support among poor rural women in Rwandan society. Through the Association of Kigali Women in Sports (AKWOS), she uses women's participation in sports to challenge the cultural and historical status quo, demonstrating their ability to improve their lives and develop their communities. She is also an Ashoka Fellow.
Rwanda

Felicite Rwemalika

Felicite Rwemalika uses female participation in football to build self-confidence and social support among poor rural women in Rwandan society. Through the Association of Kigali Women in Sports (AKWOS), she uses women's participation in sports to challenge the cultural and historical status quo, demonstrating their ability to improve their lives and develop their communities. She is also an Ashoka Fellow.
Rwanda

Felicite Rwemalika

Felicite Rwemalika uses female participation in football to build self-confidence and social support among poor rural women in Rwandan society. Through the Association of Kigali Women in Sports (AKWOS), she uses women's participation in sports to challenge the cultural and historical status quo, demonstrating their ability to improve their lives and develop their communities. She is also an Ashoka Fellow.
Rwanda

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