promotion of coexistence through sport

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Forms of intervention designed to bring together disparate groups or communities in sporting exchanges and experiences, with the objective (at least for the moment) of transcending conflict and difference, and pointing towards future forms of reciprocal understanding. Initiatives of this kind have included the bringing together of children from Catholic and Protestant backgrounds in Northern Ireland, in football tours away from the country; and the use of football as a peace-enhancing tool in building bridges between children, families, and institutions from neighbouring Jewish and Arab towns and villages in northern Israel. John Sugden, who has led initiatives in both these settings, has argued that ‘pragmatic and grass-roots interventions’ can build such bridges ‘between otherwise divided communities’. Incremental efforts and interventions in the cultural field can, Sugden claims, help ‘smooth the way’ to political resolutions: ‘the chances of achieving…peace may be enhanced, but also the day to day existence of those labouring in the shadow of conflict might also be improved’ (‘Teaching and Playing Sport for Conflict Resolution and Co-existence in Israel’, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 41/2, 2006).

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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