As part of the Football Saves Lives campaign Football for Peace in partnership with The Commonwealth Secretariat and the Football Association of Maldives (FAM), delivered a series of educational workshops focusing on how football can be used as a tool to build resilience to support issues of safeguarding and advance development and peace. Football has the unique ability to offer skills that can be used both on and off the pitch, including some ‘soft skills’ such as team building and communication skills.
Staff from different Island Councils, the Football Association of Maldives, young people and parents in the Maldives were taught about safeguarding and supporting the development and well-being of young people through the power of sport.
Former professional players, Commonwealth experts, and relevant stakeholders from NGOs, came together for a week-long programme designed to raise awareness of the power of football and its ability to showcase fundamental values required for development and peace, such as cooperation, unity, respect, social inclusion, and fair play.
Mark Albon, Head of a Department at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said:
These workshops were designed to empower communities using the unifying and empowering nature of football.
Thanks to globalisation and the internet, life in the 21st century has never been so interconnected. So, it is vital we equip communities with the tools to reject the spread of negative ideologies and to protect and empower young people to do the same.
Taking place in Male, Eydhafushi, and Addu City, the programme engaged over 200 participants and culminated in a football tournament, with coaching from former professional players..
Michael Chopra, former professional footballer and Technical Ambassador for Football for peace, said:
Football has taught me so much throughout my career, shaping my life and teaching me key values, that I could use not just when I was playing but in the real world. For this reason, Football can be such an important catalyst in positively influencing the lives of all youth.
Kash Siddiqi, Football Diplomat and Co-Founder of Football for Peace Said:
Bilateral relations are described in political terms; however we promote soft power via football diplomacy. Which has a unique ability to reach far beyond ethnic, religious, or social differences and believe football to be the long-term service to peace in all forms
Safeguarding is a pressing issue across the Commonwealth, and during the lockdown, the increase in online activity exasperated the problem, in particular, for vulnerable communities. A key message delivered was to encourage young people back into the pitches and to highlight the transferable skills football can give to young people.
Sport is universally recognised as a tool to promote diversity, respect, tolerance and other values that support positive relationships between people, regardless of faith, race, or culture, and empower individuals and communities by fostering positive relationships and a sense of belonging.