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Liberia: UN Launches Sports for Peace Program

The UN Mission in Liberia Friday launch a Sports for Development and Peace program. Launching the program would be former Swiss President Adolf Ogi, who is currently Special Advisor to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Ben Dotsei Mark Malor is spokesman for the UN Mission in Liberia. He said the five-week long program will promote peace, reconciliation and development in Liberia.

“The Sports for Peace program is basically trying to use sports as a vehicle to promote peace and development. Basically as special advisor to the secretary general, Mr. Adolf Ogi, who happens to be a former president of Switzerland, put it, and I quote him, he says: In sports I learned to win without thinking I am the best; I learn to lose without thinking it is the end. I learned to respect the opponent and the rules; I learned to respect the decision of the referee. So basically, it’s the same. Here in Liberia, there is the strong potential of using sports as a way uniting people,” he said.

Malor said there is precedence in Liberia that sports is capable of uniting the people of a nation.

“This cannot be simplistic. Don’t forget Liberia has had a strong team led by the former world footballer of the George Oppong Weah, also a current opposition leader and presidential contender in the last election. He galvanized the youth and the people of this country when he was leading the national football team for many, many years. And also there is a clear story, which was repeated by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf when I visited her together with Mr. Adolf Ogi. She mentioned the fact that during the civil war, all the combatants usually lay down their arms whenever there was a sporting event like a football match involving the national team,” Malor said.

Malor said sports is a vital vehicle for peace and development, and that when used the right way, it can direct the energy of young people away from violent conduct into productive activities.

Malor said through the assistance of the International Olympic Committee, the Liberian government and the UN mission in Liberia received sporting goods and equipment valued at $75,000 to organize the five-week long program in soccer, kickball and volleyball throughout the 15 political sub-divisions of Liberia.