Football 4 Peace International (F4P) is an activity-based community relations and reconciliation initiative. Sports coaches, community leaders and volunteers, work alongside each other bringing differing communities together through football and aspects of outdoor education. The project began in 2001 bringing together two communities and 100 Jewish and Arab children. Today the programme in Israel involves 24 mixed communities with over 1000 children.
The philosophy underpinning the Football 4 Peace programmes in Israel and neighbouring countries is one that emphasises social justice and human rights as the moral principles that underpin and guide the search for equality and peaceful co-existence among different ethno-religious communities and political factions. We are not doing this in support of the status quo and neither are we involved in the business of normalisation. Instead, we see our bridge-building work between Arab and Jewish communities inside Israel as part of a broader challenge to influence progressive social and political change in the wider region, including, when possible, making a contribution to the preconditions beyond which a mutually acceptable and balanced peace agreement between separate and independent Israeli and Palestinian states can be achieved.
F4P also operates in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, facilitating a cross border project. Run by local teachers and coaches trained in the F4P methodology, this project uses football to bring together children from both sides of the border regardless of background and religion. International development of the project further occurred in 2009 when F4P began operating in Jordan.
In all projects, young people enjoy learning and playing football together in non-threatening settings. The activities and coaching methodology devised by the initiative promotes intimate interaction, allowing longer-term relationships and cross-community understanding to flourish.
Its aims are fourfold: