The Peace and Sport organization is finalizing the preparation for the 9th Friendship Games edition, which will take place in Bujumbura, Burundi and Uvira, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from 17th to 19th August 2018 in an extraordinary demonstration of trans-border cooperation in the Great Lakes Region.

The Games, which bring together 150 children from youth centers in the areas bordering Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, will see a host of high level authority representatives and diplomats, international sport federations and Champions for Peace to endorse the power of sport for positive change.

In an extraordinary demonstration of trans-border cooperation and commitment to promote better inter-cultural dialogue through sport, governments from Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo accepted to host the 2018 Games. With the attendance of H.E Mr. Bruno Tshibala, Prime Minister, H.E Mr. Papy Niango Iziamay Minister of Sport, Laurent Dupont, Peace and Sport General Director and Olympic medalists and Champions for Peace Marlène Harnois and Isabelle Yacoubou, the Games will be officially opened on Saturday 18th August in Uvira, DRC.

Joël Bouzou, President and Founder of Peace and Sport, says: “Since 2010, the Friendship Games help as a platform of dialogue and cooperation in the Great Lakes region. This year, particularly we are proud to announce that two countries will be hosting the Games in an effort to promote peace through sport in the Great Lakes region”.

Friendship Games conference

Alongside the Burundi National Olympic Committee, eight International Federations including the International Judo Federation will lead a number of sporting activities and seminars in Bujumbura, Burundi. These activities will benefit 150 youngsters and 50 coaches from Burundi, DRC and Rwanda, as a tangible legacy of the federations and as a demonstration of the key role that sport organizations can play generating positive social change.

Around 800 sport items including judo outfit offered by the IJF will be donated to the five Peace and Sport’s community centers located in Burundi, DRC and Rwanda.

For Marius Vizer, IJF President: “The IJF has been actively involved in the Great Lake Region of Africa through its Judo for Peace program. Participating and supporting the Friendship Games is important and clearly shows the way to help all those, who’s life can be changed through sports.”

The Turikumwe programme in Burundi

An important Judo for Peace program has been running in the Great Lakes region and especially in Burundi for many year. Back in 2006, there were only a few dozens of judoka in the country. But the 'Turikumwe' (we are all together) project was developed and rapidly supported (2008) by the IJF and the Judo for Peace commission, to increase the number of judo players to 1,500 throughout the territory. From Bujumbura, the judo was initiated again in Rwanda, where a federation was founded and both Burundi and Rwanda could participate in several IJF event including the World Championships. School programmes et inclusive activities for the whole population were at the heart of all the development, bringing back together, communities that had been fighting for several decades. 

The Friendship Games are organised annually by Peace and Sport and the respective host countries’ National Olympic Committee. Currently six youth centres within the African Great Lakes region are supported, all of which gather during the Friendship Games and use sport to promote social inclusion, education, and inter-ethnic dialogue.

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