AFCON 2023: CAF’s inaugural football festival aims to inspire unity in Goma


In a remarkable display of solidarity and sportsmanship, the Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) is set to bring hope and joy to the displaced people of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the inaugural CAF Africa Cup of Nations Football Festival this Saturday.

The Lac Vert-Bulengo IDP site will be transformed into a vibrant hub of activity, uniting young players from seven nearby sites housing internally displaced persons.

Veron Mosengo-Omba, the General Secretary of CAF, expressed the organization’s commitment to providing hope for those who might otherwise feel hopeless. This football festival is not just about the game but is part of the CAN awareness initiative, emphasizing the power of football to bring positive change to communities in need.

Joined by Dieudonne Sambi, the President of the Congolese Association Football Federation (FECOFA), Mosengo-Omba aims to use football as a vehicle for social inclusion, unity, and drawing international attention to the plight of children in the camps.

The event is more than a tournament; it’s a platform to enhance communication with children, advocating for peace, social cohesion, and peaceful cohabitation.

The objectives extend beyond the field, with life skills training for children and coaching workshops for educators and coaches in basic football techniques and life skills. As a lasting legacy, CAF plans to invest in hard-ground football pitches, goal posts, and essential equipment for the Displaced Camp and Refugee Camp.

The festival kicks off with a Grassroot Football Festival for U12 Boys and Girls, followed by U15 Boys and Girls Tournaments and a Coaching Workshop. The day will culminate with the laying of a drainage system, ensuring the field’s usability for the local community for years to come.

Distinguished guests, including former DR Congo coach Florent Ibenge and internationals Distel Zola and Tresor LuaLua, along with local football figures, will grace the event. Additionally, UN agencies, UNFPA and UNHCR, are organizing workshops on sexual and gender-based violence, addressing critical issues within the camps.

This extraordinary initiative in Goma is just the beginning, with a similar event scheduled for later in January in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. CAF’s commitment to using football as a force for positive change resonates beyond the boundaries of the game, bringing hope and joy to those who need it most.

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