Football fuels friendships in the DRC

17 May 2019
  • Centre des Jeunes pour la Paix is an NGO operating in Congo DR

  • Many young people in the region are war victims

  • It uses football to inspire self-confidence and promote peace

The Centre des Jeunes pour la Paix (CJP) is a non-profit organisation founded in 2002, which is part of the global network of NGO streetfootballworld, and uses football to help young people in difficult circumstances in Congo DR. The association currently takes care of 4,500 people of both sexes aged between nine and 27, offering them regular programmes which promote peace, social inclusion and health.

Operating in Uvira, in the east of the country, the CJP is committed to helping a young generation blighted by poverty, disability and war. Many children and adolescents in the region have had to leave school and have lost family members, or have been recruited by armed groups, leaving them traumatised by violence.

Football cannot solve everything in such a difficult context, but its positive and unifying values are a powerful educational tool to rebuild confidence in oneself and others, and to help young people look to the future in a positive way again. As well as fostering personal development, the CJP also helps to bring communities in conflict closer together, notably through football tournaments which put an emphasis on fair play and dialogue.

"We use football, which helps to bring everyone together through sport in a spirit of calm and diversity," explained Jean-Paul Elongo, director and founder of the CJP. "The girls and boys play together while agreeing to a common set of rules. The fact that they meet through football allows them to open up to each other in a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect."

Over the last ten years, the CJP has helped to ease strong tensions between various groups and reduce the incidence of violent behaviour among young people.