Youngsters from Luton schools took part in the Football for Peace tournament at Kenilworth Road on Friday, May 18. The event, organised by 20 peace ambassadors aged 16 and 17 years old, was the culmination of a series of events aimed at improving community cohesion in the town.
Luton Council and Luton Town FC Community Trust joined with Football for Peace to enable young people to work together within communities to create greater mutual understanding and respect, while developing personal skills in the process.
At the same time as learning sports leadership skills, throughout the period of their training the young ambassadors attended a variety of workshops looking at issues such as equality and diversity. They learnt ways to tackle prejudice, hate crime and extremism, and developed skills such as conflict management.
Those involved have also gained recognised level 1 and 2 sports qualifications – such as football coaching and sports leadership – all of which will stand them in good stead in their future roles as ambassadors for young people and the town.
Pupils from various schools arrived expecting to play with their school mates, but as one of the aims of the process was to learn to relate to people from other backgrounds and cultures, players were shuffled into different teams. To emphasise the nature of the event, the squads were given names such as “diversity”, ”cohesion” and “equality”.
Spectators, including Luton Town FC, CEO Gary Sweet, chairman David Wilkinson and local footballing legend, Mick Harford, enjoyed some competitive matches followed by presentations for all competitors.
After the sporting aspect of the day, guests retired to the club’s John Moore lounge to hear speeches explaining the value of such projects for the town’s diverse communities. At the end, the ambassadors – some of whom had arrived straight from sitting vital GCSE exams – received their certificates.
Jay Jadeja, CEO for Football for Peace, commented: “Football is a great vehicle for peace. I was delighted to be in Luton for this event and witness the next generation being given the tools to work for cohesion and peace.”
Football for Peace (FfP) is a diplomatic sports movement that uses football to create dialogue and unite people.