Sports is a natural bridge between cultures, religions, ethnic groups and nations. It is, after all, based on the universal language of play.
Peace through Sports is an AUN-API program that invites vulnerable youth in northeastern Nigeria to participate in soccer, volleyball and basketball tournaments. The participants are mostly uneducated, unemployed and have no future. The program gives them hope. The sports tournament is a productive outlet that prevents these at-risk young men and women from being recruited by Boko Haram.
The program also builds conflict resolution skills, tolerance and fosters peace. Participants are grouped into “unity teams” made up of youth from different religions and ethnic groups and players also take part in a seven day peace studies workshop.
Outstanding participants earn scholarships to continue their education in AUN’s IT or other education programs. Since November 2013, more than a hundred participants have either gone back to school or found employment! Two soccer players are even playing for the Adamawa state soccer team and one is a member of the Gombe state team.
AUN has plans to expand Peace through Sports to 2,500 youths from Yola and Jimeta and intends to build literacy and technology training into the program.