Playing for Peace

For a child, play, fun and the peace of just being a child has no beginning — nor does it have an end.

“I used to go to FFAV Fun Football Festivals when I was in grade Seven, up to grade Nine; they didn’t have FFAV Cups back then,” confided Ha Hoang as he watched the secondary school footballers playing on the pitch attentively, his eyes entranced by the sight of the ball being skillfully kicked. “I went to every practice, every field trip then. There were trips to Hanoi, too; they were the most memorable…”

One could hear him voicing his passion for football and his love for FFAV as he speaks. There was also a little sadness, a little nostalgia between his words.

“I feel a bit sad that I cannot take part in this event anymore…”

Ha is a grade 12 student at An Luong Dong high school now. He travelled about an hour on motorbike from Phu Loc to Hue City to watch the children have fun on the pitch and in the life skill tents, to immerse himself in the Cup atmosphere once again.
Ha was probably just one of the kids whose vision has been changed for the better by grassroots football.

“Football isn’t the main thing here,” he told me. “Some kids are too young to be able to play well, for sure, but it is important because they have the chance to interact with children from other schools, other provinces. They get to learn essential skills the fun way.”

In fact, grassroots football works. It works amazingly. Just one little ball can bring together so many children — not only on the pitches as they team up for the matches, but also in life skill games when children from many different places mix to form new teams. Isn’t that the essence of peace?

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“Play is in our DNA” (One World Futbol). Play has the power to connect children, create opportunities for them to develop, for their potentials to be discovered. Most importantly, play lets children be children and have fun. The FFAV Cups strive to do just that.

Today is the second day, and also the last day of the FFAV Cup 2016. The children’s football clothing is a bit dirtier, their shoes a bit smudged with dirt, their caps a wet from sweat, but they still smile just as brightly, they still give each match their 100%, just like the first day.

For a child, play, fun and the peace of just being a child has no beginning — nor does it have an end. I said goodbye to Ha as I moved on to another pitch. I thought I saw him carry in his eyes a glance of peace as we parted.

Le Phuoc Thuc Nhi

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