Weeks ago, I had a great discussion with Tamar Hay-Sagiv who is a director of the sports department at the Peres Center for Peace in Israel about the role of sports in reconciliation. The Peres Peace Centre has done some great work in this area including women and sports, paralympic sport, sport and peace.
It is always difficult to make generalized comparisons about various conflict ridden areas, but the readers will forgive me if I say that the Balkans and the Middle East have at least two things in common- conflict that is at least in one of its part based on ethnicity and religion and great athletes.
Ms Hay-Sagiv and I agreed that sport can be one vehicle to kick start reconciliation among the warring groups, especially as it targets the youth. There has a lot of work done by various NGOs in the field of sport for peace and project for reconciliation.
I have organized several similar initiatives in Montenegro where we specifically looked at the role of sports in environmental protection and economic development with youth ages 10-14 (link it), and have discussed the role of sports in reconciliation with a good friend and former UN Ambassador in Montenegro, Alexander Avanessov who is currently a resident representative in Kyrgyztan.
Within this context, we specifically discussed a possibility of bringing a group of young Palestinian and Isreali kids to Montenegro for a two week sports education camp together with the peers from Montenegro. We preliminarily talked about covering several topics including the role of sports in career development, healthy life style, gender equality, minority empowerment and others. We will be inviting various diplomatic representatives based in Montenegro and NGO colleagues to join in the discussion.
We are aiming for spring 2013 and are currently looking for partners both from the perspective of the educational and financial perspective and we’re super interested to hear about experiences of other organizations that have done similar work.