The outgoing Nepalese battalion serving the United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s Field Office in Rumbek has organized a mini football competition in partnership with the local football association.
The tournament, held at Rumbek Freedom Square under the theme of “Sports for peace, peace for prosperity”, attracted an audience of more than 4,000 during each of the three days it lasted.
Sport has the power to cross divides. It speaks no language and has no tribe, creed or culture.
“Sport is a powerful tool that can be used to knit societies and people together,” said football fan Joseph Deng.
As South Sudanese work towards achieving a unified society of mutual respect and understanding, “sport plays an integral part in the achievement of this goal,” he added.
The UN mission’s Head of Field Office, Kwame Dwamena Aboagye, used the occasion as a platform for campaigning for a voluntary disarmament in the Greater Lakes area.
“We want to use this opportunity for peace through sports to announce to you that we would want you to voluntarily hand over your weapons, so that we begin to solve our problems by recognizing our chiefs, the police and everybody to help solve our problems instead of using guns to kill ourselves,” Kwame Dwamena Aboagye pleaded, referring to the recurring inter-communal violence and cattle raiding which caused the government to decree a state of emergency and the disarmament of civilians in the area.
The football competition, which also featured cultural performances by the Nepalese battalion and local communities, also served as a way of thanking the outgoing peacekeepers and wishing them a safe return to their home country.
“We wish the Nepalese contingent a safe journey back home. It has been three wonderful and colourful days of joy and excitement. I am also urging everyone to be peaceful and demonstrate values of peace wherever you are,” said Justin Marial Mathok, captain of the Zalan football team in Rumbek.
The governor of Western Lakes, Matur Chuut Dhuol, acknowledged the efforts of UNMISS to reconcile feuding communities in region. He also donated four bulls to the Nepalese peacekeepers and the participating soccer teams.
Zalan Football Club were the worthy winners of the competition after seeing off the NepBatt 1 Team on the final day of the tournament.