UNITING THE WORLD
Birmingham is the largest and most populated British city outside of London. It’s alive with different cultures and religions. And its fair share of issues.
This metropolis of diversity seemed the ideal location to launch our ‘City for Peace’ campaign. In September 2015, we began the campaign with a ‘Peace Match’ involving former UK professional footballers, Football for Peace Footballers and current international players of the Afghanistan national team. This diverse pool of talent highlighted the commitment of Football for Peace to bring national and international attention to make a positive change to cities throughout the country and further afield.
On match day, we were proud to welcome Prince Ali-Bin Hussein of Jordan as our guest of honour, along with representatives of Her Majesty’s Naval Services, who have shown continual support for Football for Peace, along with other distinguished persons from across the UK and beyond.
When the final whistle blew at the end of the ‘Peace Match’, it was just the beginning of turning Birmingham into a ‘City for Peace’. Eight schools were chosen to take part in our ‘City for Peace’ Legacy programme. These were Archbishop Ilsley Catholic School, Cockshut Hill Technology College, John Willmott School, King Edward VI School – Sheldon Heath, Ninestiles Academy, Saltley Academy and finally Washwood Heath Academy.
We then chose three young people (two Year 10 pupils and one Year 11), all from very different cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds from schools right across east Birmingham, to join us and train to become Football for Peace Ambassadors. Through our workshops, these young people were given the opportunity to work, learn, and bond together in a neutral environment created out of mutual respect and understanding for each other.
In December 2015, HRH The Duke of Cambridge came to see the work of Football for Peace in Birmingham. He saw first hand our young Football for Peace Ambassadors in action, managing, officiating and delivering a football tournament, at Saltley Academy.
Speaking with HRH privately, they spoke about the programme and what it meant to them personally.
Later, HRH presented our Ambassadors their certificates in a ceremony not only in front of their peers, head teachers, proud family members and the national and international media, but a serving UN Special Envoy for Peace and Sport.
Birmingham was testing ground and a huge success our ‘Cities for Peace’ initiative. We set out to educate, nurture and bring out the leadership qualities of a group of young people from inner city Birmingham. They had achieved so much in their 14 weeks. Personally and as a team. On their journey they had learned a lot about themselves and how they could not only change their own lives, but others around them. They had even come face-to-face with royalty and change-makers of the world along the way. No longer were they the same shy group of individuals who had first joined us one early Sunday morning in mid-September.
Now, they were Peace Ambassadors.