Interview by Siri Gögelmann, ifa | Institut fur Auslandsbeziehungen e.V.
Punjabi kids kick for tolerance
Clifton Grover: I don't want to exaggerate the importance of football. But for me it represents a universal language. The football field offers children a safe place for playful encounters. We need that to get something started. But, of course, just because I'm playing some football somewhere doesn't mean something marvellous automatically happens. That's why we use street football as an educational approach in "Kick for Tolerance".
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A Pan-Punjab Peace & Youth Development Initiative
With the support and funding of the German Foreign Office (ZIVIK/IFA) and the foundation Robert Bosch Stiftung, a development project on both sides of the Pan-Punjabi border could be launched in 2016.
The Punjab is a central scene of a deep-rooted conflict between India and Pakistan which in the past repeatedly culminated into open military disputes and remains unsolved till to today.
The initiative KICK FOR TOLERANCE is unique and a pioneer work for several reasons:
- A trustful and face-to-face cooperation between local, indigenous NGOs from both sides of the border could been started
- Rural communities and families from both sides, practically neighbour-communities which are disconnected by a nearly insuperable border, have been motivated to support a programme that takes their children on an educational journey making intercultural experiences and connecting on bi-lateral and international levels
- School teachers, headmasters and District Education Officers have been reached to deal with a new and holistic educational concept that recognizes experiential learning, social competencies and intercultural experiences through school-partnerships as a valuable element
- 200 girls and boys in the age of 10 to 14 from both sides have enrolled in the programme and have started their exciting journey that will develop and connect them.
- In close cooperation of local and international NGOs a holistic Sports-For-Development and Peace curriculum was created and adapted to the local contexts. It is based on the methodology “Football3/Streetfootball for Tolerance” providing a positive space for encounter, dialogue and education.
All this said is anything but self-evident for this crisis region we work in. The more we feel encouraged to support children's personal and social development by means of a playful and joyous interaction. Offering them opportunities to share common experiences across borders will eventually contribute to establish a better understanding of each others needs and wishes in the future.
In light of these recent developments the project has already started to lever its unique set-up on both sides. Video messages and greetings between the groups have been exchanged and were warmly embraced. A constructive learning and development process is now elaborated around this approach. Using the football3 methodology - also called “Streetfootball for Tolerance” – a joint value base is anchored, social, communication and organization skills are built and a platform for encounter and exchange is introduced. In 2017 first Peace & Fair Play Tournaments on both sides of the border were conducted and virtually connected with the prospect of a joint event in the future.
The 2016 launch of the Pan-Punjab programme KICK FOR TOLERANCE is a big step which not few may have thought is hardly to achieve. It was made possible by committed and courageous local Sports-For-Development NGOs and visionary seed phase funding partners.
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