Second Peace Game in Monrovia BY EZEKIEL MAVOLO
onrovia based Future Guardians of Peace hosted another peace tournament on Sunday, May 26, 2013 on the George Weah sports field in Paynesville City, Red Light community. The game planning process began as soon as the first peace game ended in April. Sports have the ability to attract youth, and give us a fun and entertaining way of coming together to address common issues and ideals amongst our communities, such as teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS prevention, conflict/resolution, and sustainable peacebuilding initiatives. This time around, we wanted to take extra caution in making sure participants (both players and spectators) understood the intent behind organizing these tournaments: creating a culture of sustainable peacebuilding and raising awareness of risks aﬄicting the youth within our communities. Even though oﬃcial letters were
Guardian of Peace to oversee a team and explain the purpose of the games. I oversaw S.E. Kickball Club, Morris S. Kamara assisted Angel of the Ring, Akoi Mawolo was assigned to Action Girls, and everyone collectively coordinated Angel FC, as they were our upcoming team. Discussions took place at our regular Saturday meetings on how to address each team and what role each individual was to play in preparation for the games. We met several times before the tournament was hosted so that all corrections were made in accord with the advice given by our mentor, James Makor (Director of the environmental organization, SAMFU (Save My Future Foundation)). These meetings are an important part of our grassroots peacebuilding. We spend a lot of time interacting with community members and understanding what
ALL-GIRLS KICKBALL TEAM, PHOTO BY EZEKIEL MAVOLO
written to the four teams (Angel FC, Action Girls FC, S.E Kickball Club and Angel of the Ring) stating the reasons for which the games were to be played, we found that a special emphasis on our intention would serve as a benevolent reminder. To ensure that this message of peacebuilding was dispersed and understood, we assigned each Future
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issues are prevalent and in need of addressing. Come the meeting on Saturday, we are able to contemplate how to implement a project to approach the concerns. Among the many decisions we had to make in regards to the upcoming peace games, we agreed on purchasing a ball for each team, in hopes that the ball would help keep them together and
encourage them to continue practicing together. We understood that a ball is the primary thing a team would need to start practice. Other things were bought for the game such as soft drinks, bread (prepared with sardines, mayonnaise, onion and surcease) and water. We usually have these materials available at all of the games, because in Liberia people feel highly recognized and respected when refreshments are offered during or after a gathering. This is a tradition passed down from our forefathers, and it is culturally understood that eating together is an important symbol of togetherness and unity.
girls to look after themselves so that they may have a baby by choice and not by chance. I listed some of the many factors of unwanted pregnancy, including peer pressure, rape, substance abuse, and poverty, and how having a baby when you aren’t ready is not a means of improving your life situation. I advised the use of condoms for girls and boys who are already, or intended to become, sexually active, and for the boys to take extra care in using them. I ended my speech by saying, “Go on girls and boys, and make new friends! The day is yours!” Everyone moved to stand around the field in a circle as the game commenced. The field began to get crowded as coaches were talking to their players on the importance of working together as a team in being victorious. However, we realized that nature wasn’t going to allow for much time, as rain began to pour down. Angel FC, from Wealth Town Community, and Angel of the Ring FC, from Parker Paint (Wood Camp), competed in the opening match. Angel FC was victorious, with seven points over their opponent, giving them the chance to play in the final. The second match began with S.E Kickball Club, from Du-port road Community, and Action Girls, from Wealth Town Community. Action Girls was victorious, with six points over S.E Kickball Club, giving them the chance to meet Angel FC in the final game.
TEAMS LINING UP BEFORE GAME COMMENCEMENT, PHOTO BY EZEKIEL MAVOLO
The Future Guardians of Peace in Monrovia have added girls’ kickball clubs to the tournaments. We saw that adding a girls’ kickball league would help to spread the message we have for our fellow Liberians, by encouraging more females to participate. Kickball is an important game in Liberia and Sierra Leone that closely resembles baseball; but instead of hitting a hard ball with a bat, you kick a large, soft ball. This addition to our program inspired pride amongst the girls in our community (many of whom are also ex-combatants) and a feeling of belonging. As the program time approached, Future Guardians of Peace members drove onto the field to get things in place before the teams arrived. We also went early to meet with the caretaker of the field, Sis Musu, to remind her of the coming tournament. We set up the PA system for the DJ to play music as the teams arrived. Music attracts the minds, and lifts the spirits of many people, but I think especially those of the youth. About thirty minutes after the setup, teams were arriving in red, blue and yellow Jerseys from all diﬀerent directions. Spectators were beginning to gather as well. Being mindful of the time, and while waiting for the introduction from the tournament’s organizer, we immediately met with coaches and requested that they line up the players and ask the spectators to stand in the background. As the designated spokesperson, I explained to the players and spectators that the tournament was for the sake of lasting peace and that there would be no room for violence or conflict of any kind. I concluded by stating, “Our presence here today, both players and bystanders, represents an eﬀort toward promoting friendly relationships amongst our communities and our behavior should exemplify this aim.” The conflict is generally instigated by issues of ethnicity, tribalism, and bullying. This is why we invest a significant amount of time raising awareness about these culprits before the games begin. I also elaborated on a topic chosen during one of our Saturday meetings - that of teenage pregnancy prevention. This topic was chosen because we were dealing with all-girl kickball teams. I encouraged young
Time was given to the winner of the second game, Action Girls, to rest before the finals. By then, the entire field was completely crowded with spectators. The two winners, Action Girls and Angel FC, got ready for the final match in their red and yellow jerseys. Both Teams had good players and good teamwork, making it diﬃcult for either team to score a point. The result of the even match was a tie of nine to nine. It was a perfect outcome, and we consider both teams to be the victors of the tournament.
FUTURE GUARDIANS OF PEACE INTORODUCING THE GAMES
Immediately following the game, coaches and captains we called upon to receive their prizes of brand new soccer balls. Mulbah Richards presented the prizes, while the Future Guardians of Peace began serving soft drinks, bread and water to the teams. People were dancing, while coaches discussed and exchanged contact information for possible practice matches. This, to me, is a sign of working together, building connections, and making relationships stronger. In the end, the S.E Kickball Club coach requested us to host a tournament in the Du-port road Community, where they are based. We will update you on this tournament and more in the next newsletter! Ezekiel Mavolo is a Future Guardian of Peace with everyday gandhis and a sponsored student at Rick’s Institute.
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