Football For Peace: how sport is breaking down barriers in northern Nigeria

The Football for Peace Foundation is an organisation that uses sports to bring people together and drive positive change. Their #FootballSavesLives campaign is more than a hashtag: it is a call to action to support young people in underserved communities. Their latest efforts in northern Nigeria are a testament to the Foundation’s targeted approach.

In 2022, the programme brought together a diverse group of 50 boys and girls from Abuja, Kaduna and Kogi states. By focusing on a sport that brings people together, the Foundation is able to break down barriers and build trust between communities who have previously viewed each other with suspicion.

As part of the initiative, teenagers took part in both educational workshops and practical football training, allowing them to become Young Peace Leaders within the community. This equipped local young people with key communication and team building skills to be used on and off the pitch.

#FootballSavesLives campaign harnesses the influence of the football community to tackle short- and long-term crises, displacement, and environmental disasters. #FootballSavesLives works with vulnerable communities to support young people by developing intervention programmes, creating peace centres, and responding as quickly as possible during crises and remaining by communities’ sides long after.

A range of partners contributed to the Football for Peace initiative in Nigeria, including DT Institute, Spirit of America, The Rotary Foundation, Rotary Club of Asokoro, Rotary Club District 7010 Canada, US Department of State, United States Embassy in Abuja and British High Commission in Abuja.

As we celebrate International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, we recognise the vital role that initiatives such as Football for Peace play in promoting social cohesion, inclusion, and strengthening communities. The programme has become a beacon of hope for young people in Northern Nigeria, inspiring them to work together towards a brighter future and turn their backs on extremist groups. Football for Peace continues to use sport as a platform to serve environmental and societal prosperity for humanity alongside its partners globally.

Images courtesy of Football for Peace Foundation.

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