Analysing the Role of Football in Building Social Cohesion in War-Affected Uganda
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It has been said that football can heal the social wounds of war and be a force for reconciliation. But is that really true? In opposing two teams, there is an inherent contradiction in the idea of bringing people together to support explicit competition between groups. Speaking to promoters of football for social cohesion in post-war northern Uganda, it became clear that the way in which competition between teams is managed is the true determiner of just how unifying – and how polarising – sport can actually be. Speaking to people in Gulu about what football means to the Acholi people, the dominant response was one of an ‘escape’, a ‘community’ and a way to forget about ‘the bad things that have happened to people’ in the war (Coach Kentos, Gulu Utd FC). However, the stakes become considerably higher when a large sum of money is at stake. Very quickly, interest in the matches can become fuelled more by a dislike for the opposing team than admiration for one’s own. Indeed, tribal racism still runs high and the memories of the atrocities of war are far from being healed. How much then, does football unite and how much does it merely serve to draw thicker lines between already dividedgroups?
- Social Sciences