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On Thursday 27 April 2017, Awerial County South and Awerial County North wrestling teams participated in a tournament organized by Solidarity Ministries Africa for Reconciliation amp; Development (SMARD) with the support of UNDP's Peace and Community Cohesion project (PaCC) in the new community stadium constructed in Mingkaman.
The construction of this new facility is part of a project developed by PaCC, in partnership with SMARD (Solidarity Ministries Africa for Reconciliation and Development), to bring communities together to promote peaceful coexistence and interdependencies.
Activities in support of peace are an important part of the development work that UNDP is doing. The Community Security and Arms Control project is there to support local peace and reconciliation initiatives. We provide support to communities so that they can identify and address conflict drivers [hellip;] and connectors, things that bring them together, and to create safe spaces in which communities can interact. The wrestling ground is one of those safe spaces that has been created and the wrestling itself is one of the activities the local communities identified as a unifier. We believe wrestling and sports, in general, are very effective tools when it comes to peacebuilding. It brings communities together. It helps them to set differences aside and to work for a common goal,rdquo; said Julia Tope Odumuyiwa, a Peacebuilding Specialist with UNDP's Peace and Community Cohesion project
Wrestling is a very popular sport among the people of Greater Yirol [hellip;] and gives the opportunity of bringing diverse people together. When people come together, they socialize more, their social relationships are cemented and this can lead to social cohesion at the community level. We are using wrestling to reach out to different members of the community, particularly young people working in the cattle camps, because they are the ones mobilized to take part in community violence. Instead, wrestling gives us the opportunity to talk about peace with them,rdquo; said Bernice Kitum, Program Coordinator with SMARD.
More than 4,000 spectators attended the tournament,which consisted of 15 intense matches. Awerial County South won the competition, winning eight of the match-ups. Awerial County North won one match, and there were six draws.
I like that my fans can enjoy my moves and my skills, I like people coming to see me. I am happy to come here but we always look forward to hosting other communities to come and wrestle with us,rdquo; said one of the wrestlers from Awerial South.
Youth participated in the competition as wrestlers and as coordinators of the event as part of the wrestling committee, peace committee and youth union of Awerial County, and were collectively responsible for making this event a reality. Their collaboration serves as examples of how the communities can work together for peace. The competition was held without major incidents in a collaborative environment and spectators showed appreciation for the competition and the facilities.
The play was good, even though Awerial North lost, one day [the team] will compete again and they will win. We are so grateful that the fence is now built around the stadium, now people are controlled and they cannot make chaos,rdquo; said a child who watched the matches.
Thanks to this wrestling competition I now have new friends. We can meet with them and next time they will come to Awerial South, so we are happy to see that we have made many friends here. Today Awerial South won, but in the future, Awerial North will win also so won't be any problem and they will be happy as well,rdquo; expressed another spectator.
UNDP will continue to support peacebuilding activities like this wrestling for peace competition, with a look towards building the nation's vision of a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous South Sudan.
Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).