Beatriz Mejía
Director of Grupo Internacional de Paz

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18/02/2016 par Beatriz Mejía

Sport and post-conflict reconstruction in Colombia

In Colombia, throughout the territory, the dynamics of armed conflict have affected communities in all their dimensions, destroying social links, trust, integration and respect for others. The cycle of violence has mainly affected children and adolescents who for decades have been exposed to the risks of social conflict that have left 12% of the population in our country as direct victims. Sons and daughters of parents involved in the war as militant guerrillas, paramilitary and military groups or victims of the actions of armed groups operating outside the law today are exposed to repeated cycles of violence unless processes of reintegration and social repair that favour restoration of rights to members of communities that have been marked by years of successive forms of violence are generated.

The security for which governments are concerned is only one indicator of a healthy society. Beyond the mechanisms of control, the ground of an unsafe city or municipality hides unhealed wounds of a society and generation that has inherited unresolved emotions. Their parents lack the tools to respond assertively to their environment, creating in them a condition of hopelessness when they think of themselves with no practical means to change their life situation.

From this perspective and on the verge of a peace agreement between the government and the guerrillas of the FARC, the government should bet on sport with a social approach as a mechanism that contributes to the guarantee of non-repetition. Sport provides a structure in an unstructured environment, channels away the fears of aggression and promotes the use of institutionalised mechanisms for conflict resolution.

“When the bases of identity development are deficient, the risk behaviours that seek instant gratification are increased or affirmation through ephemeral actions that give feelings of accomplishment and recognition increase, even if this is negative type … In these conditions youth becomes vulnerable to obtaining rewards through behaviour indiscriminate –of short range, immediate and accessible” Krauskopf, D. (1994). However, although preventive strategies for individuals or particular groups are particularly important, it is also essential to generate community dynamics of integration around activities that promote new values. Thus, prevention strategies will have a greater impact on the extent to which the environment offers conditions for change.

In this logic, sport as a social function becomes a medium through which they create and consolidate spaces for participation, proper management of emotions and conflict resolution. If we think about the reconstruction of a country, you need to think of transforming the cultural patterns in the community in favour of coexistence. This is achieved to the extent that sport practices promote new forms of socialisation and constructive processes of conflicts and through the internalisation of principles that are traditionally worked on in sport and are incorporated into daily practices in a fun way. Sport serves as a privileged mechanism for positioning new community values that serve new collective achievements.

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