In some of the remote border villages of Manipur such as Chassad and Sampui in its Kamjong district, football has slowly been doing what many governments have failed for decades —uniting the conflicting clans.

This has been largely possible due to an initiative started by Mathanmi Hungyo and Rohit Agarwal. They started an NGO named Recognise Rise and Empower Association (RREA), in 2018. 

RREA Championship’19

Hungyo and Agarwal, who founded RREA, decided to open grassroots football centers in government schools of the district under an initiative called Sports For Social Development. It also supplements RREA’s Teach For Northeast Fellowship program.

Not only has this initiative helped children from various tribes such as the Kukis and Tangkhul Nagas interact and play with each other, but it has also improved their attendance in schools. 

Under-17 Team

Hungyo, who belongs to the Tangkhul Naga tribe, said, At school, you could feel the tension and hostility that existed between different communities in terms of how we sat together in class and how we made friends. But on the field, where I loved playing football, we would unite irrespective of which tribe or community we came from.” 

RREA Girls Football Match

These elements evidently have a bearing on achieving peace between different communities, an essential objective for any initiative seeking social change.

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Sports offers a platform where children from different ethnic groups participate together to play and interact. This has led to building peace amongst each other. These children would otherwise remain restricted to their own social groups when inside a classroom.

With the advent of this sports program, their interest in playing with each other has grown. Sports have helped break these social barriers and encouraged children to interact with each other.

These schools are located in places driven by underdevelopment, insurgency, conflict, and violence. Therefore, the value of sports is very high.

Children from poor and marginalized backgrounds undergo different mental health issues including social dysfunction and other similar issues, which affect their ability to learn.

Practice Session In The Morning

In such a context, a mediator like sports can actually secure the children’s right to quality education. The influence of sports on character formation and social cohesion has a direct bearing on peaceful attitudes.

It further helps children to better express themselves in the process. Self-awareness is an important life skill that children often develop through sports.

Image Credit: Google Images

Sources: Print India, The Better India

Find the blogger: @saba_kaila0801

This post is tagged under: Football, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Print India, Better India, Boys Team, Girls Team, Coach, Rivalry, Unity, Clash, Offensive line, Center, Offensive Guard, Offensive tackle, Backs, Receivers, Quarterback,  Running back, Wide receiver, Tight End

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