Families from the city of Timbuktu in northern Mali are beginning to rebuild their lives following more than a year of conflict.
However, the process of reconciliation is not easy and the community is still divided between groups who supported the rebels and those who opposed them. For people who were wounded or lost loved ones, the feeling of revenge is still present.
To help with the healing process and bring families and children from all communities together, Plan with the support of the Swiss Cooperation held a friendly football tournament from 19-29 May to support and bring smiles to children.
The tournament called the ‘Cup of Peace and Reconciliation’ saw eight teams participating from the urban districts of Timbuktu.
The teams were made up of children from Timbuktu’s schools and child-friendly spaces. 218 young footballers aged 8-16 years took part in the ten day event watched nearly 3,000 spectators.
"This is the first time we play with children from other neighborhoods that have now become our friends," said Yehia, 11.
The tournament was eventually won by a team from the Alpha Saloum school who won the cup with a score of 2 goals to nil.
"This athletic competition in Timbuktu saw children play together for peace and reconciliation. The children were able to forget their trauma and strengthen their friendships, "said Mamadou Musliha Maiga, Director of Animation Educational Centre in Timbuktu.
Launched in January 2014, Plan’s Child Protection in Emergencies project will run for a period of six months, the project aims to provide support to children in emergency situations and being implemented with the support of local NGOs including AMSS Wills.
"I will continue to play football to integrate the regional team and win games for my city," said Sidi Touré, 15.