Countering Violent Extremism (CVE)
Millions of youth and young adults have been displaced, forced to live in camps with little or no access to education or basic healthcare, no infrastructure or formal social structures and for the many who have lost family members, no adult role models. Those that leave the camps are returning to the constant threat of unexploded ordinance and improvised explosive devices.
In these conditions, with few opportunities for education or employment, no identity or purpose that they care to defend, vulnerable young people remain at high risk of recruitment by extremist groups; of turning to drugs or crime; and communities run the risk of future sectarian violence and recrimination. Displaced young people with an uncertain future and an identity that is all but erased are the simplest of targets.
In response to this, Spirit of Soccer Iraq has created a Countering Violent Extremism program which focuses on engaging Fighting Age Males in multi-ethnic soccer leagues that promote Mine Risk Education and healthy behavior.
Rebuilding sports infrastructure can be used as a key tool in rebuilding communities and reducing the risk of future radicalisation in several ways:
– By creating a source of self-esteem and purpose for young people;
– By creating positive role models for community through training and supporting local coaches;
– Building a network of peers with a common and valued interest in soccer;
– Providing a safe space to discuss subjects such as justice, healthy living, gender empowerment and respect for others and mine-risk education
– Providing a vehicle for education and sustainable employment where these essential opportunities are scarce
– Bringing different community groups together in non-violent competition and promoting the value of cooperation and tolerance.