Football 4 Peace International project hits 20th anniversary

Our global project is marking 20 years of its mission to promote peaceful co-existence amid conflict. 

John Sugden, Gary Stidder and Abbas SuanFounded in summer 2001 by University of Brighton sports academics Professor John Sugden (left in photo) and Dr Gary Stidder (right in photo) Football 4 Peace International uses education and social engagement alongside sporting activity to deliver ‘values-based’ training and coaching programmes in places facing cross-community conflict, political disorder or social disintegration. The project grew from a smaller-scale initiative set up by Professor Sugden in the 1980s in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, when he was a lecturer at the University of Ulster in Belfast.

Trialled initially in Israel and Palestine, Football 4 Peace International now operates around the world in countries including Colombia, South Korea, Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland and The Gambia. The programme aims to promote emotional well-being, personal development and responsible citizenship for those who take part, using sport to create new beneficial networks across community boundaries and boost mutual understanding and a commitment to peaceful coexistence by enhancing life skills and sports skills.

Dr Stidder, Principal Lecturer in Physical Education in the university’s School of Sport and Service Management, said:  “The key emphasis of the values-based model is the teaching and practical application of core values in socially fractured societies. This approach to teaching physical education is designed to be flexible and can be used to help resolve conflict, promote community reconciliation, develop inter-personal skills, build cultural bridges and develop positive relationships among young people ultimately with the aim of promoting an appreciation for diversity in society. 

Testament to its success is that it now operates around the world in countries such as South Korea, Colombia, Northern Ireland and Gambia, involving thousands of children and community sports leaders, as well as University of Brighton students.”

The National Association for Physical Education has published a 20-year review of Football 4 Peace International written by Dr. Stidder in the summer edition of Physical Education Matters.

A group in The Gambia