POSTED: July 4th 2012
Peace and Sport: Third Friendship Games taking place in Burundi July 7 & 8
LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications
July 4 – The Peace and Sport organization is jointly organizing the third "Friendship Games" taking place in the Great Lakes region of Africa uniting people from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. Last year the Games were held in Luvungi, in South Kivu.
The event will take place at Gihanga, Bubanza province in Burundi gathering 250 young people from 9 to 15 years old, from several different communities located on all sides of the border.
This year makes the first time that Rwanda will join the games demonstrating the outreach the event is making in the neighboring local areas.
The Peace and Sport organization was founded by World Olympians Organization (WOA) president, Joel Bouzou, who is also the secretary general of the International Union of Modern Pentathlon (UIPM) and is under the patronage of IOC member, Prince Albert II of Monaco.
Bouzou explains "In three years, the Friendship Games in the Great Lakes of Africa have gained real maturity and the fact that Rwanda is taking part for the first time this year bears witness to the great progress the event has made.
“The number of sports disciplines has doubled and more and more young people are involved, getting to know one another and overcoming their prejudices with the unifying values of tolerance and respect that sport propagates.
“I would like to warmly thank all our partners who work each day to increase the stability of the region, without whom these games would not be possible."
This year the event will include 6 new sports disciplines and there will be mixed gender events too in athletics and football, karate and judo. Competitions will take place in volleyball and tennis table and there will be demonstrations of 4 new sports: netball, rugby, sambo and (disabled) goalball.
The event has gained recognition as there are nine National Sports Federations and 3 International Sports Federations collaborating with the sports competitions.
A number of organizations have gotten involved as they see the value of using sport as a peace making tool for social change: National Olympic Committees and National Olympian Associations from DRC, Burundi and Rwanda, the Ministries of Youth and Sport from the three countries, working alongside the NGO CFESDC, the United Nations Mission for the stabilization of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monusco), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
These Friendship Games are serving as a catalyst to bring in sustainable peace in the area that has suffered decades of conflict and have now secured a tradition to look forward to and make new friends in sport.
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