Update on FARE at the Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana07 February 2008

Accra, 1 February 2008

A 4-day Football for Peace and Development & Games Festival was held at the SOS Children's Village in Tema to coincide with the 26th Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana.

During the festival, FARE has been running a stand to interact with children on the power of football to unite people and overcome issues around discrimination and exclusion. For the first time the FURD exhibition about the life of first black professional footballer, Arthur Wharton, who was originally from the Gold Coast (now Ghana), is on display within the African continent.

The Football for Peace Festival, which kicked-off on 30th January, brings together 800 children from deprived schools in Ghana, Benin and Nigeria. The diversity of the Ghanaian society is fully represented with children coming from regions throughout Ghana. The 7-a-side tournament replicates the Africa Cup of Nations in the style of “street football”, with games being played without referees to encourage Fair Play and responsibility. All teams are comprised of both boys and girls.

The football and games festival closed on Saturday 2nd February with a visit of three times African player of the Year, Abedi Pele, and other personalities including the Nigerian legend Segun Odegbami, who captained the Super Eagles in 1980, when they won their first Nations Cup title as well as two representatives of the South African Local Organising Committee for the World Cup 2010. Abedi Pele and Segun Odegbami paid a visit to the FARE stand and had a look at the Arthur Wharton exhibition.

At the press briefing the initiator of the festival, Bella B. Bitugu of the Austrian FARE partner FairPlay has sent out a warning:

“Our project is also about fighting discrimination of all sorts – if we look around Africa we see conflicts based on ethnicity. We in Ghana always claim we are peaceful and such conflicts can never occur here. I say we have to be careful because the potential for ethnic conflict is there, due to the colonial legacy”.

The festival was part of a programme started in September 2007, which aims to create awareness of the vast potential of football as a medium for development and peace, as well as an agent for promoting the rights and plights of children. The festival was organised by SOS Children’s Villages Ghana in conjunction with a variety of NGOs including Right to Play, Tackle Africa, Play Soccer and FARE.

Powerful Opening Procession
A colourful and noisy procession of almost 1000 participants trailed through the streets of Tema, the twin town of the capital city Accra, to mark an impressive start to the festival on 30th January. The children presented a dozen banners with messages such as “Football for Unity” and “Football against Discrimination”.

Former Black Stars player and FIFA Anti-Racism Ambassador Anthony Baffoe welcomed the children when they returned to the SOS village. Baffoe said that he enjoyed a privileged childhood as the son of the Ghanaian Ambassador in Germany, but when his father died his mother had to struggle to care for the seven children. His advice to the children was straightforward: “Education, education and education!”

FARE Third Country Projects
In collaboration with the FIFA for Hope movement, FARE is supporting eight small scale anti-discrimination projects in Africa and Latin America. Representatives of three
projects – Tudu Might Jets FC (Accra), COSPE (Axim) and LISPED from the Democratic Republic of Congo – in addition to representatives of FURD and FairPlay helped convey the message of FARE at the festival.

FARE Contact in Ghana:
Kurt Wachter, FairPlay-vidc
Mobile Phone 00233 248703850