Monday 21 February 2022, 10:30

Children celebrating "extraordinary love of football" in DR Congo

  • UN Secretary-General Special Representative and Head of UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DR Congo supporting schools’ tournament 

  • Ms. Bintou Keita praises football’s qualities for social cohesion 

  • African Schools Champions Cup was organised in collaboration with UN Women and UN Development Programme 

Through staging the first African Schools Champions Cup, the main objective was to harness football’s power to leave a positive social impact on communities through education. Nobody knows the importance of that better in DR Congo than Ms. Bintou Keita, the United Nations Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the country. 

The two-day tournament for boys and girls teams from Benin, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Morocco, Senegal and South Africa was supported by both UN Women and the UN Development Programme in recognition that the initiative has the power to bring people together in an educational context. 

African School Champions Cup 2022

“In schools’ tournaments, we see a health competition that uses the children’s physique but also strategies, tactics and teamwork,” Ms. Keita told “We might be opponents when debating ideas or playing a sport, but we’re all human beings and we don’t need to be violent towards one another, because being in a sporting environment involves respecting certain rules and procedures. 

“I think that’s important in shaping and changing young people’s mindsets towards the idea that competition isn’t a bad thing in itself and actually a good thing because it leads you to be more disciplined and to push your limits for the benefit of a team.” 

There was a festival atmosphere around the tournament in Kinshasa and Ms. Keita projects the feel-good factor of the weekend will also produce long-lasting impacts for the participants. 

“The progression of child’s development is physical, mental and nutritional,” Ms Keita added. “Sport is a relevant way to show young women and girls that they have skills and abilities which are as proven and relevant as those of young boys. They can contribute to strengthening their mental health by being physically fit and practicing an activity. It [the African Schools Champions Cup] could lead them to meeting other girls, teenagers or young women and create moments for coming together and sharing. The female teams compete with the same tactical tools as the males.”