Peacebuilding and violence prevention through sport

Project description

Title: Sector Programme on Sport for Development
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Colombia
Overall term: 2015 to 2019

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Colombia has experienced more than 50 years of armed conflict between guerrilla organisations, paramilitary groups and the Colombian army. The violence left over 14 per cent of the population displaced. It has affected around 8 million people, including a disproportionately high number of children and young people, who are more prone to violence than other age groups in Colombia and also more likely to be the victims of violence.

The implementation of the landmark peace agreement signed with the guerrilla group FARC in late 2016 is central to the country’s future development. In this context, it will be vital to provide adequate support to the regions most affected by the conflict.


Children and young people have the social skills and qualities they require to peacefully co-exist in a democratic society. There is improved social (re-)integration of internally displaced persons, particularly children, young people and former combatants. The project’s activities focus on regions affected by conflict, violence and displacement.

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Sport has been recognised by the UN as ‘a means to promote education, development, health and peace’. The Sport for Development approach is also being applied in German development cooperation. Participating in sport is not only a way for children and young people to remain healthy. They also learn to assume responsibility, act in a spirit of fairness and resolve conflicts peacefully. These qualities are key prerequisites for success in later life and can help young people gain a foothold in the job market.

The project trains coaches, who act as role models and mentors for children and young people, boosting their confidence and helping them to improve their prospects for the future. Through the training they provide, they also address issues relating to violence, health, environmental protection and gender equality.

The Colombian Government already uses sport as a development policy instrument in its peacebuilding and reconciliation activities, which is why Colombia was selected by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development as a partner country for the Sport for Development programme. The project’s activities build on those being carried out by the Colombian Government and non-governmental organisations, and there is close cooperation with partners from the fields of politics, academia and civil society.

The project has worked with its Colombian partners to develop the Fútbol con Principios (Football with Principles) method, which aims to teach children and young people social skills and values such as respect and team spirit through football. The method builds on existing Colombian strategies for promoting peace through football, international Sport for Development approaches, modern sports education methods and insights from the field of youth psychology. The emphasis is on providing further training for coaches.

The project is also implementing the programme Paz en Movimiento in partnership with the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The programme focuses on Colombia’s border regions, which are often marked by the weak presence of state institutions, economic and political neglect and the proliferation of illegal actors. It provides training for coaches in accordance with the Futbol con Principios approach, including to former combatants. This helps them integrate into communities and assume a responsible role in society.

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500 teaching staff, coaches, social workers from various non-governmental organisations and local community leaders have so far taken part in the Sport for Development training programme. The training has been carried out in the individual regions in cooperation with partner organisations. Successful participants are now applying their newly gained skills on an independent basis, providing coaching to around 35,000 children and young people.

According to estimates made by the project’s partner organisations, at least 3,500 of the children and young people participating in the coaching in 2016 were internally displaced persons. A large number of those taking part have also been affected by violence, in some cases as former participants in violent conflict.

In order to ensure that the Futból con Principios method is firmly established at a structural level, 30 participants were selected to train as ‘master coaches’ in a three-week course. They are now providing training across the country, passing on their knowledge and thus acting as multipliers for the Sport for Development approach.

Additional information