Holland's New Kick: Compassion in Sports Award
by The Charter
1 year ago
With Euro 2012 about to kick off the world is watching not only for grand displays of skill, but for a potential for violence and racism in the host countries of the Ukraine and Poland. The BBC's Panorama program has raised hackles with the broadcat of "Stadiums of Hate" and some players' families have said they won't attend the events. Poland and Ukraine maintain their fans are no more dangerous or racist than any football fans. Admittedly, the Euro 2012 comes on the heels of a particularly nasty year for racism in UK football -- an England captian ousted for racist remarks; a public furor over the bad sportmanship of not shaking hands before a match; and a tweeting fan sentenced to 56 days in prison for racist postings.
Celebrating Sports and Compassion
But there is hope -- more than hope -- in the Netherlands where sports are being used a the locus for compassion and peace. In this Olympic year, the Dutch Compassion Award focused on the idea of compassion in sports -- much more than respectful behavior toward others but using competition as a way to reduce conflict. Among the efforts nominated this year were:
-A young women who has created a center in Amsterdam for disabled children
-An organization dedicated to creating a more positive culture in the soccer scene -- even among the youngest players and their parents.
-Three young people use sports to teach social skills to youngsters who have a problematic background through sports clubs.
-A policeman from the northern part of the country who has been a Dutch champion in Muay Thai and a European kickboxing. champion. "Although he knows perfectly how to fight, he’s first of all a peacekeeper" who teaches young people self-confidence through his sports. As a second-generation Moroccan, he also facilitaties dialogue among diverse communities.
The Winner Is...Ambrose Ongwen
The Dutch Compassion Award 2012 , presented on Golden Rule Day, went to Ambrose Ongwen, who works in Sudan, Uganda and Kenya to brings young warriors together to discuss their conflicts and find possible solutions. To put it succinctly: " By not shooting a rifle but a shooting a football they are playing for peace now." The jury decided to give the award to Ambrose Ongwen because he has been in Holland several times to teach Dutch sport instructers how to use this method in working with juveniles with social problems. Monica Neomagus of Mozehuis says the choice of Ongwen is an expression of gratitude and appreciation of his drive to bring his techniques and accomplishments to Dutch society. When Ambrose Ongwen returns to Holland in the autumn, he will speak in the skybox of one of Hollands most famous soccer clubs (Ajax Amsterdam) and he will personaly be congratulated by the alderman of sports from the city of Amsterdam.
Ongwen's work is is supported by Seeds of Peace Africa, IKV/Pax Christi and the Dutch Sport Alliance (NSA). There is much more to say about the man and his work -- and a documentary Peace Beyond Borders to watch online.