The U.S. Embassy in Abidjan held a media event with journalists, key government officials and private sector partners to officially launch the Embassy’s National Champions of Unity Program, a three-phase youth soccer program in partnership with Foot’attitude, a sports-based social change organization.
The goal of the program is to foster tolerance, social cohesion and democratic values among youth in Cote d’Ivoire. To address the need for true reconciliation, U.S. Embassy Abidjan has prioritized democratization and political participation in its Integrated Country Strategy. As that strategy states, if individuals, elites, and groups across divides are engaged in a process of dialogue and reconciliation, healthier relationships and shared futures can be generated to increase social resilience to mobilized violence.
The methodology of this soccer program directly incorporates these principles into 6 camps with 100 participants each. Future phases of the program include the final team of 12 “Champions” traveling to the U.S. as well as a Sports Envoy coming to Cote d’Ivoire to travel around the country with the Champions on a national tour to spread messages of peace and social cohesion through soccer. The program is sponsored by telecommunication company MTN and Coca-Cola.