Five years ago, FARC rebels and the police were trying to kill each other. Today, two teams of police and former FARC guerrillas took a group photo before a football match. The goal of the game was to strengthen ties between the former enemies, and find peace through football.
CGTN’s Toby Muse reports.
These types of matches are only possible thanks to the 2016 peace deal between the government and the FARC militant groups. The deal ended one of Latin America’s bloodiest civil wars.
“This is historic. We’ve never seen this before. Ex-guerrillas and police officers facing off, but not in combat, but on a football pitch,” Former FARC rebel Jesus Diaz said.
The two sides played hard. They’re no longer enemies, but rivals on the pitch. If you didn’t know, you couldn’t tell who was a policeman and who was an ex-guerrilla. On the Colombian countryside, the pitch and uniforms aren’t quite up to FIFA standards. In this area, it’s not hooligans who invade the pitch, but cows.
Since the guerrillas demobilized, they’ve started teaching local youth football. Ex-rebel Mario Alberto Montiel and former soldier Omar Cortez have developed a deep friendship over their love of football. They said that football is a way of keeping the children out trouble and crime.
“We are increasing their access to sport and culture, getting them involved in this, rather than things they shouldn’t be doing,” Montiel said.
“We’re teaching the kids to be good people, more social and to give love,” Cortez said.
The teams are proof that sometimes peace isn’t achieved through the grand signing of agreements, but rather, through 22 players meeting on a football pitch.