Cross Cultures' charity organisation blog
Sport mod had
På denne dag i sommerregnen legede serbere og albanere sammen på det primitive stadion. Deres etniske oprindelse tænkte børnene ikke over.
Af Jørgen Hvidemose, Bestyrelsesmedlem i CCPA (Cross Cultures Project Association)
Det var regnvejr, den dag jeg kom til Pec, men alligevel var der fuld aktivitet på stadion. Mere end 200 børn - drenge og piger - serbiske og albanske - for rundt og deltog i forskellige øvelser og lege. Da jeg og Sandra, min tolk ankom, blev aktiviteten stoppet et øjeblik. Den albanske leder tog mikrofonen, bød velkommen og råbte så: "Thank you Denmark", mens børnene klappede.
Cross Cultures Project Association (CCPA) har med stor succes gennemført fodboldskoler - Open Fun Football Schools (OFFS) for blandede grupper af etniske børn på Balkan, i Kaukasus og i Mellemøsten - i tidligere krigshærgede områder.
Jeg var som repræsentant for CCPA rundt i landet for at følge op på det danske engagement her, for at være garant for at de danske midler bliver brugt godt og fornuftigt, samt drøfte nye muligheder med ledere og trænere på skolerne.Byens borgmester udtrykte det senere sådan: "Hvad ingen andre organisationer har formået, det er lykkedes for fodboldskolen. For første gang siden krigen er der kommet serbiske børn ind fra omegnen til dette stadion", fortalte han.På denne dag i sommerregnen legede serbere og albanere sammen på det primitive stadion. Deres forskellige etniske oprindelse tænkte børnene ikke over.
Man skal nok have været rundt i Kosovo for at forstå hvilke følelser, der findes her. Tydeligst står et møde med lederne nede i Glijane. De havde haft nogle fantastisk festlige dage med over 200 børn af forskellig etnisk oprindelse. Under vores samtale begyndte den ansvarlige leder - denne store, stærke mand - at græde. Senere fortalte han selv, at han aldrig havde troet, at det igen ville kunne lade sig gøre at arrangere sådan en festival i hans by.På den første fodboldskoledag i Pristina deltog ingen serbiske børn. Der var ikke kommet nogle nord for floden. Utrygheden - især hos forældrene - var for stor.
På et møde drøftede vi dette med de albanske og serbiske ledere. Skulle vi f.eks. bede det danske militær eskortere børnene til fodboldskolen i den albanske del.Det var en mulighed. Bl.a. fordi de danske soldater er populære i Kosovo. Det endte med, at et par serbiske trænere frivilligt tilbød at køre med børnene i en bus, ind til Pristina, fulgt af en albansk leder.Det var et spændende øjeblik, da de ankom. Hvordan ville de blive modtaget? Hvad skete? - de albanske børn klappede ad de 14 serbiske piger og drenge. Velkommen. Noget godt var sat i gang."Thank you Denmark" - ja, men det sagde de også i Pristina, Prizren, Gjilane og Mitrovica. Takken hermed bragt videre til den danske regering og folketing.
For første gang blev der i år gennemført skoler i Kosovo, og her kunne albanere, serbere, muslimer, makedonere og andre af de forskellige etniske grupper, der lever her, være enige om at hylde og takke Danmark.Det var blevet kendt i hele landet, at de fodboldskoler, der var dukket op her, og som gav en ugelang oplevelse for mere end 1200 børn på 6 skoler i Kosovo, var doneret af udviklingsmidler fra den danske stat og andre nordiske lande og organiseret af (CCPA), der har hovedkvarter i Tårbæk.Fodboldskolerne startede op i Bosnien i 1998, og siden er dette danske initiativ blevet kendt og værdsat på hele Balkan, senere i Kaukasus og i Mellemøsten.
Ja - det første danske projekt i Mellemøsten efter Muhammedkrisen var en Open Fun Fodboldskole i Jordan i april måned.Hvad nytter udviklingsbistand, hvis folk ikke kan leve sammen. På fodboldskolerne, som jeg har oplevet det - f.eks. i Srebrenica, i Sarajevo, Mitrovica, Pristina og andre steder vil børnene uanset etnisk oprindelse bare have lov til at lege og have det sjovt sammen.Fodboldskolerne vakte megen opsigt i Kosovo og havde stor medieopmærksomhed. Et spørgsmål gik igen fra samtlige journalister: "Kan det her også fortsætte til næste år"?I dette på mange måder dejlige land, men med en arbejdsløshed på over 60 pct., kan man ikke selv løse sådan en opgave.Så ja - det vil vi bestemt arbejde på. Vi må ikke svigte børnene i Kosovo.Det er nemlig dansk udviklingsbistand, der giver perspektiv med mening. Det bekræftede de mange børns glade ansigter på fodboldskolerne i Kosovo denne sommer.
Glem ikke børnene på Balkan
Af Jørgen Hvidemose, bestyrelsesmedlem Cross Cultures
'Husk, dine allerbedste venner bor i Bosnien'. Sådan stod der på engelsk i et julekort, jeg fik lige før jul fra Sarajevo. Det fik mig til at tænke tilbage på oplevelser på Balkan sidste sommer og på nogle pragtfulde mennesker, som jeg har mødt der flere gange.
En af dagene i august sad jeg på en lille bænk på det gamle primitive fodboldstadion i Srebrenica i Bosnien-Herzegovina og kiggede over på husene bagved, hvoraf mange var ubeboede. De var som de fleste huse i området blevet ramt af granater og fyldt med skudhuller. Det må have været et helvede her, da serbiske soldater jagede de muslimske beboere ud af deres hjem og væk fra området. På den anden side af stadion kiggede man over på de skove, hvor mange muslimske mænd og drenge var blevet ført over af soldaterne - for derinde at blive henrettede. 8000 blev dræbt i Srebrenica for 10 år siden.
Men inde på græsset på stadion var der alligevel latter og smil. Mere end 200 børn - såvel piger som drenge - af både muslimsk og serbisk oprindelse havde det herligt. De var på en ugelang fodboldskole. At muslimske og serbiske børn sådan kan lege med hinanden er et mirakel som vil freden.Når man rejser i Bosnien - eller i hele taget på Balkan - oplever man, at spændingerne stadig er meget store. Det er ganske vist kun få mennesker, der ønsker krig, men der skal også kun få til at få det hele til at bryde ud igen. Derfor vil der også gå mange år før, end EUFOR -styrkerne bør trækkes hjem.
Det er vanskeligt at forsone sig med mennesker, der har fordrevet folk fra deres hjem, myrdet og pint andre. Der er kommet ar på sjælen, der aldrig vil læges - højst gemmes.Nogle dage efter mit besøg i Srebrenica talte jeg med nogle mennesker ude i Mostar. De troede slet ikke på, at det nogensinde ville lykkes at få de etniske grupper til at leve fredeligt sammen i dette område igen.På den baggrund var børnenes smil og latter i Srebrenica noget, der skal holdes fast i. Børnene er nøglen til fremtiden på Balkan. De vil gerne ud på fodboldbanen og lege sammen med andre etniske børn. Børnene tænker ikke på om de modtager en aflevering fra en muslim, en serber, en makedoner eller kroat - de spiller bare. På fodboldskolerne altid på blandede hold.
Anderledes f.eks. med de voksne, hvor de fleste klubber er etnisk opdelte. Enkelte klubber er dog så langt fremme, at der kan være medlemmer med forskellig etnisk oprindelse i samme klub, men så forekommer det ofte, at de etniske grupper træner på hver sin banehalvdel.
Børnene havde det rart sammen på fodboldskolen i Srebrenica. Det havde de også på fodboldskolen i nærheden af Split i Kroatien, som jeg besøgte nogle dage senere. Serbiske flygtningebørn hyggede sig her med kroatiske børn. Efter skolen har de børn en helt anden og bedre forståelse af hinanden.
'Vi føler virkelig, at dette arbejde giver håb om fremtiden', sagde de kroatiske og serbiske ledere. 'Sig derhjemme, at I ikke må svigte os - at I ikke må svigte børnene på Balkan', var det sidste min tolk, Irena sagde, inden jeg denne gang rejste hjem. Det Balkan har brug for er børn, der smiler og leger sammen.
Fodboldskolen i Srebrenica
Af Jørgen Hvidemose, medlem af Cross Cultures' bestyrelse. Artiklen er bragt i Politiken, søndag den 14.august 2005.
Der blev ligesom lidt mere stille i den lille personbil efterhånden, som vi nærmede os. Tidligt om morgenen havde vi forladt Sarajevo. Humøret havde været fint. Også selv om de mange ar fra krigen - som stadig ses over alt i Sarajevo - ikke rigtig tillader en at le højt, så var der dog overskud til morsomheder imellem os på turen.
Vi var på vej ad landevejen gennem Bratunac til Srebrenica. Længe inden Bratunac så vi de første sønderskudte huse og landejendomme. Fra Bratunac og ned mod Srebrenica var der ingen af os tre, der sagde noget. Billederne uden for talte for stærkt. Hundredevis af bombede og smadrede huse. Ikke en væg på husene var uden stærke spor af maskingeværsalver. Det må have været et helvede, det her.
I Srebrenica kørte vi forbi mindeparken med de 2500 friske grave med ligene af de mennesker, der indtil nu er fundet i flere massegrave. Næsten 8000 mennesker omkom under massakren i Srebrenica for 10 år siden.
Videre gik det forbi fabrikskomplekset, hvor flere tusinde flygtninge troede, at de kunne føle sig sikre under de hollandske FN soldaters beskyttelse. De tog frygtelig fejl.
Da vi kørte her var ord overflødige - men så godt 500 meter længere henne ad landevejen var det hele med et som forandret. Et par hundrede børn i deres hvide t-shirts løb og spillede fodbold. En utrolig kontrast.Dagen inden havde Irena, min tolk sagt: "Hvad Srebrenica har brug for i dag for at komme videre, er børn der griner og leger". Det gjorde de den dag i Srebrenica.
185 børn - heraf noget så usædvanligt 40 piger - var tilmeldt fodboldskolen, "Open Fun Football School" som her foregik på byens lille primitive stadion. Nok så forunderligt var det, at der var både muslimske - som serbiske børn. At serbiske og muslimske børn kan lege og have det sjovt sammen i Srebrenica er et mirakel skabt af fodboldskolen, som målrettet ønsker nogenlunde lige mange af hver.
Opmærksomheden eller nysgerrigheden var også nået til Beograd, hvorfra tv og presse var mødt op på denne sensommerdag.
Børnene havde tilmeldt sig den ugelange skole efter opslag på deres skole, men ikke alle børn fik lov af deres forældre. Dertil var der for stor en indgroet frygt hos mødrene m.h.t. hvordan det skulle gå med blandingen af de to etniske grupper.
Det rygtedes, at det gik godt, så på skolens 2. dag mødte 25 børn op og ville være med og næste dag yderligere 50. Fodboldskolen var på bristepunktet, men børnene fik alle lov til at deltage. På en Open Fun Football School sender man ikke børn skuffede hjem.
De mange trænere havde forinden på et seminar været igennem en uddannelse, og lært, hvad børnefodbold er, så de kunne varetage denne opgave. To af trænerne var også ledere og trænere i den lokale klub, FC "Guber" Srebrenica. De to, en serber og en muslim havde fundet sammen gennem fodbolden og kom nu også privat sammen, fortalte de mig. Det er også et lille fodboldmirakel på de kanter. I kantonen er det ellers almindeligt, at fodboldklubberne er for enten serbere eller muslimer. Nogle klubber havde dog medlemmer af begge etniske oprindelser, og så kan det forekomme, at serberne træner på den ene banehalvdel, mens muslimerne træner på den anden. FC "Guber" havde fået udstyr fra CCPA, og de to trænere tillagde det æren for, at der igen er en klub på det gamle primitive stadion. Desuden havde frivillige hollændere været derude og havde renoveret klubhuset.
Fodboldskolerne på Balkan og i Kaukasus bliver organiseret fra Danmark og gennemført af det lokale kontor. I dette tilfælde under ledelse af Esad Hadzijusufovic og hans 3 ansatte på kontoret i Sarajevo. Esad boede i Sarajevo i de 4 år, hvor byen var under beskydning. 4 år, hvor indbyggerne ikke kunne gå uden for en dør uden risiko for at blive skudt af snigskytter eller komme for tæt på nogle af de granater, der regnede ned over Sarajevo.
Nogle dage inden skolen i Srebrenica, havde vi trænerseminar oppe på Jahorina bjerget - 30 km væk fra den stegende hede i Sarajevo. Her spurgte jeg Esad, hvorfor han med den baggrund gør alt det her for at bringe muslimer, serbere og kroater sammen - om han stadigvæk troede på det. "Jeg vil aldrig opgive troen på det bedste i mennesker", svarede han. "Jeg kan ikke se de her mennesker som soldater. Der er store spændinger i Bosnien, men det er kun få mennesker, der ønsker krig, selv om jeg også godt ved, at der kun skal få til at starte en krig på Balkan igen". Vi er utroligt glade for fodboldskolerne. De bringer så mange mennesker sammen. De er med til at vise vejen. Der er folk, der har skudt på hinanden, som nu er sammen om arbejdet med skolerne, men først og fremmest skal skolerne bringer børnene sammen - uanset, om de er kroater, serbere eller muslimer. Det er det eneste projekt, der involverer så mange etniske børn i Bosnien".
På seminaret på Jahorina deltog 80 trænere, der fik en indførelse i børnefodbold. Trænerne, der kom fra Kroatien, Makedonien og Bosnien - såvel serbere som muslimer - havde det rigtig godt sammen. Under undervisningen, legen og foboldspillet spekulerede ingen på, hvor den ene og den anden kom fra. Det var en samlet gruppe, der hyggede sig sammen. Hyggen om aftenen, hvor der var levende musik, var også stor, men musikerne sørgede dog omhyggeligt for at 3 serbiske sange blev afløst af 3 kroatiske, 3 bosniske o.s.v. Der må ikke rodes op i de nationalistiske gløder.
På Balkan taler man meget om, at børnene er fremtiden og håbet. Fodboldskolerne har vist deres store betydning ved at få børnene til at grine, lege og spille fodbold sammen uanset etnisk herkomst. De fleste er fattige i Bosnien. Arbejdsløsheden er på 60 %. I Srebrenica lever familierne i gennemsnit for 8-900,- kr. om måneden. De har ikke en chance for at finansiere fodboldskolerne selv. Jeg tillod mig som dansker at være en lille smule stolt og glad over, at den danske regering og det danske folketing støtter op om dette arbejde. Det er udviklingsbistand, der giver mening med perspektiv.
Børnenes glade ansigter på fodboldskolen i Srebrenica bekræftede dette.
An essay on the Open Fun Football Schools in the Balkans by Anders Levinsen (2000)
In December 1999 the Open Fun Football Schools organized a fun football festival for some 400 children in the town of Srebrenica. It was a big event, because we had invited sixty Muslim children to take part in the festival. Forty of these children had been "ethnically cleansed" in Srebrenica during the exodus in 1995 and subsequently their families had settled down as refugees in Vogosca, a small town in suburban Sarajevo.
Moreover, twelve of the boys shared the fate of having lost their fathers in the largest massacre in Europe since World War Two. This had happened when the Bosnian Serb army overran the Muslim enclave and separated all able-bodied men from their families. While the world press was watching from the front row, the powerless contingent of Dutch UN-forces offered the Bosnian Serb soldiers cigarettes in a gesture of reconciliation; I suppose in the hope that the Bosnian Serbs would spare their lives. Some seven thousand men were led to the sawmill on the outskirts of the town and were never to be seen again.
Twenty Muslim boys and girls from the town of Pracha were to arrive by bus along with 20 boys and girls from the neighbouring town of Pale, the Bosnian Serb capital during the war from where Karadzic and Mladic ruthlessly orchestrated the ethnic cleansing. The very idea of having Bosnian-Serb and Muslim children from these towns travel to Srebenica in the same bus was considered so unlikely by the eccentric representative of EC's Humanitarian Office, that he promised me two bottles of good red wine if the children would arrive safely. They did of course, unlike the bottles of red wine.
It was to be the first time since the end of the war that Muslim children were in town. In fact, it was to be the first time a multi-ethnic event was to take place here, except for the occasional visits of Muslim women who had come here under UN protection on so-called "go-and-see-visits". Undoubtedly, many people do recall the pictures broadcast on television showing these middle-aged women wearing flowered headscarves tightly knot under the chin.
The pictures of women crying in despair by the sight of their husbands' mass graves, their old houses, the plot of land they had lost forever and the Bosnian-Serb refugees who were now living there are all unforgettable. These refugees had been driven away by the Muslims living in the very same suburb from where we had brought our refugee children. Their faces and crying were a painful reflection of the memories and the feeling of loss, as well as the hatred and anger towards those who had done so much to harm them during the Bosnian-Serb siege of the town.
Here we were on a Saturday morning in the beginning of December 1999 on the sports ground in front of the school in Srebrenica, waiting for the busses with the Muslim children to arrive. Our inflatable football pitches were ready for action. Already the first curious spectators had gathered, along with some of the local children who were going to participate in the event. The children were scattered around the ground in small groups, huddling together for mutual support.
My old colleague Zoka from Bijelina blew his whistle to rally the children. He lined them up in four columns and gave them each a T-shirt. It has always surprised me when I see how easily children from the Balkans are able to line up into long rows. When I am trying to make Danish children do the same, it is a much more difficult affair, with the ranks breaking up even before they are fully formed, one child pushing the one standing behind and a third not wanting to stand next to the fourth.
Cross Cultures Project Association | CCPAWe heard the throbbing penetrating sound of approaching helicopters. I looked up and saw two helicopters belonging to the international stability force (SFOR) circle the sports ground and fly away. Then two SFOR cars appeared leading the bus from Vogosca with our Muslim refugee children, and behind the bus an entire motorcade of SFOR vehicles.
From the markings on the vehicles I could see that the cortège included soldiers from USA, Holland as well as Ukraine and Sweden. I was speechless, to put it mildly. What the Hell were they doing here? How could they ignore our agreement that the local police was to escort the bus through the Bosnian-Serb territory? How could they take control of the escort without informing us? Couldn't they comprehend that the entire idea of our event was to create a safe and comfortable environment in which the children could play and have fun with one another?
Couldn't they understand that our fun football festival was not supposed to become a part of the military operation at any time? Couldn't they grasp that the biggest strength of our fun football schools was an event built on the enthusiasm and involvement of the local leaders? Couldn't they figure out how to handle my consistent demand that only the "local" chief of police can be in charge of security in connection with our events?
If the local chief of police doesn't want to take full responsibility and provide security in a reliable and discrete fashion, then no event! If only one single lunaticwere among the spectators and wished to harm the children or us and shoot into the crowd, then that person as well as the local authorities could hide behind the presence of the international soldiers. They would be given just another opportunity to put the blame on the international community for not being capable of living up to its mission and having exposed the children to an unnecessary risk.
I was so upset that I had to go to the furthest corner of the sports ground in order not to lose my temper in front of all the children. I fumed and cursed and foolishly I should have predicted this scenario. Given all the pain and symbolism associated with the town of Srebrenica, we had prepared a state-of-the-art event and of course the international organizations would rush along, flags flying in front of the cavalry and the five camera crews they had brought along.
Never before had we prepared a festival so meticulously in advance. So much pain and symbolism was associated with the event that we had to hold at least three preparatory meetings with the parents of each child from Vogosca in order to agree what should happen and how events should proceed, as well as setting up a telephone "hot-line" run by a parent couple in Vogosca prior to the event.
We also held a series of parents' meetings in Srebrenica, Pale and Pracha and had numerous meetings with the local mayors and chiefs of police. In the context of this event it was not sufficient to only talk to the local authorities in Srebrenica. Officially, Srebrenica had a Muslim mayor, but he could not show up in town out of concern for his own security. Exiled to the town of Tuzla, his most important job as mayor of the town was to do his utmost to prevent emergency aid from being sent by the international organizations to the Bosnian-Serb refugees who had settled in Srebrenica and who lived under some of the worst conditions within the entire country.
Obviously, we also met with the mayor of Vogosca, where the refugees lived, in order to obtain his permission and backing for the event. We also met with representatives of the international organizations on the ground to get their support for the festival, including the local SFOR force and "The Office of the High Representative", which is the international community's highest authority in the country.
Despite all our preparations, including the most thoroughly worked-out and detailed script that I had ever contributed towards, we had lost control of our own project even before getting started, just as in the same way we lost control of the emergency aid operation back in 1993. In a split second my worst experiences from during the international emergency aid operation passed in front of me again.
With impotence and pain it was a feeling of powerlessness that came back and hurt so much. This was the same feeling I had experienced during the war and which had contributed to my breakdown and resignation from my job in the UN system.
Cross Cultures Project Association | CCPADuring 1992-93 I was employed as the local head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Central and North-eastern Bosnia Herzegovina. This was during a period when our relief operation in my area of responsibility grew from zero to the monthly distribution of food, blankets and other relief items for some 780,000 internally displaced persons and other victims of war.
As well as helping refugees, we also sought to provide protection for those minority groups still remaining within the area in the hope that we couldpreventyet another ethnic cleansing. In my capacity as local chief of the UN "Lead Agency" I also participated in negotiations during the biggest crisis in the area and I saw and experienced a lot of disturbing events. For example, I have seen the horrifying remains of a massacre, in which the soldiers had burnt six women and eight children without taking the trouble to kill them first.
The women's charred arms stuck out from their bodies as if they tried to protect their children from the deadly flames and the crumpled extremities looked like the remains of burnt matches, which would collapse if touched. I was also taken to a house where four men had been beaten up beyond recognition. Their eyes had been put out and lay on a bloody brass-dish on the middle of the floor.
Two human heads stood on the windowsill crying out their frantic pain, while the cut up corpses were lying in a pool of blood on the floor, intestines spilling out from their necks. Snipers shot at me in Sarajevo and Central Bosnia-e-Herzegovina. I have negotiated peace agreements in a hail of shells. I have been subjected to air raids and cluster bombs several times. I have exchanged prisoners of war and coordinated the reception of thousands of refugees on both sides of the frontline, who had all fallen victim to the national war psychosis and the ethnic cleansing.
These stark experiences leave their mark and I do not believe they will ever go away. But strangely, it is not the situations where I could have lost my life or where I witnessed the remains of the most insane and indescribable and macabre massacres that have given me nightmares and deprived me of my sleep and positive view of life.
As relief worker in a war zone I lived like a "drug addict" with a regular over supply of "adrenalin rush" which made me feel that my work was the most important thing on earth;more important than my own life, my girlfriend and my family back at home in Denmark. Sometimes the pulse may have been beating a little faster than usual, but I do not remember that I was ever really afraid. I felt, that the adrenalin gave me the kick and the energy and the focus that made life meaningful.
It was as if the adrenalin generated armour and shut out emotions and protected me when I found myself in the worst possible situations. Sometimes the adrenalin made me forget the fear of my own death and, unfortunately, I have to admit that in some situations it made me overestimate my own capabilities as well.
Cross Cultures Project Association | CCPAParadoxically, I often felt it much easier to handle the external conflicts, the war and its horrors, the personal histories and the struggle to save lives than handling the numerous everyday conflicts one had to go through with ones own people to make things happen. On and off, minor problems developed into protracted and almost insurmountable issues.
For example, one day our senior administrative officer entered my car wearing a bullet-proof vest and helmet. I told him that he was most welcome to accompany me into the war zone, but on one condition. Either he took off his protective gear or he arranged for the same to be given to my staff.I had for a long time bombarded him with a most reasonable request that as long as all delegations visiting us were equipped with bullet-proof vests and helmets, I believed that we, who lived and moved around in the war zone as a matter of daily life, should also have access to similar safety equipment.
The senior administrative officer didn't give in and neither did I. It was not exactly the most constructive way in which to cultivate a working friendship with a colleague or generate an atmosphere of mutual support within the organization on which one depends so heavily in a difficult everyday life.
However, the biggest feeling of pain and powerlessness I experienced was during the spring of 1993 in connection with the crises in Srebrenica when high politics entered our relief operation. Numerous key politicians and important coordinators from the international organisations were pouring in, all wanting to have a say in the emergency. The more eccentric egos at the scene, the more precautions had to be taken and lies to betold. Correspondingly the operation lost its focus and the feeling of powerlessness grew.
During February 1993 the crises escalated. Following a request from the local Muslim political and military leaders in the Tuzla region I managed to negotiate a "humanitarian corridor" for the 30,000 to 40,000 women, children and men of all ages trapped within the enclave.
It was at the time when the notorious French four-star General Morrillon jeopardized the evacuation plans because he thought that by this plan the international community would assist the Bosnian Serbs in their ethnic cleansing.
It was at the time when I was pulled out of my bed at 3 o'clock in the morning by a British Major who informed me that American and French paratroopers had occupied the airport of Split. They were prepared to rescue Morrillon if the Muslims in Srebrenica wouldn't let him leave the town before noon the following day.
Incredibly,the international community was about to launch a military intervention against the besieged Muslims in Srebrenica. Taking the situation into consideration, it would have been a lot easier to understandthe need for military intervention had it aimed to threaten or force the Bosnian Serbs into relaxing their stranglehold on the enclave. Luckily, Morrillon insisted that the international community under no circumstances should use military force to free him and although his authority had been seriously weakened, he was still the commanding officer of the United Nations in Bosnia Herzegovina.
It was also at that time the Security Council declared Srebrenica and six other areas so-called "Safe Havens". I clearly remember how proud I was when CNN announced the decision made by the Security Council, because I felt that my efforts had had an impact. "No, Anders." my former boss replied sharply - "You lost. They have just announced the biggest humanitarian detention camps in Europe!"
In other words, the UN had decided to take the people in Srebrenica as humanitarian hostages; a tiny piece of land measuring 3.5 x 1.5 kms where some 40,000 people were living under conditions words cannot describe. Most of the people were refugees coming from the neighbouring villages and many were staying in the forest or shared a stall with livestock. There were no medicines in town and the doctors had to operate without the use of anaesthesia.
There was no food. The Bosnian Serbs controlled the water supply andfrequently poisoned the source. Every day the Bosnian Serb snipers in the surrounding hills shot at people who put their own lives at risk when they went to the surrounding fields in search for relief supplies that the UN had air-dropped during the night. Apparently it was more important to the international community not to support the principle of ethnic cleansing than to rescue the lives of 40,000 people by facilitating an evacuation.
Cross Cultures Project Association | CCPAIt was at that time, when the population in Srebrenica was so desperate that the situation broke down completely, when we finally were allowed to evacuate the most vulnerable women, children and pensioners. Everybody wanted to get out. Seven people were crushed to death during the struggleto get onto our trucks.
It was at that time in April 1993 during a meeting in Pale, that General Mladic told my chief: "Remember Mr. Mendiluce, we can take Srebrenica any moment we want. But the time is not appropriate". Unfortunately, it soon became all too clear that the international community didn't find common ground for concerted action in the conflict. The big and small countries in United Nations' Security Council were divided on the question of how to solve the crisis.
The same applied to the senior management in the UN's civilian and military operation and, although I can't prove it, I guarantee that several EU member states have conducted joint as well as unilateral negotiations with the warring parties. In other words, the crisis in Srebrenica made the whole UN operation collapse. This became the immediate cause for the UN to appoint a senior politician as head of the civilian as well as military operation, first Kofi Annan and then later Stoltenberg and Akashi.
As we know from the media Morrillon won the battle of Srebrenica, but he didn't manage to carve a career for himself as president of France as he was reported to be hoping for. I lost the battle in my futile attempt to evacuate Srebrenica. So did 40,000 refugees who lived in Srebrenica for two years under conditions words can hardly describe. So did some 7,000 men who have all vanished from the face of the earth. And so did the international community (the UN) and the Dutch soldiers who realised they were powerless when the Bosnian Serbs finally decided to overrun the enclave.
It was first and foremost the fear of a repeat the two helicopters and the SFOR cortège brought to Srebrenica. It was the fear of loosing the focus of our football schools - in the same way we had lost focus in the relief operation when Morrillon went to Srebrenica and linked the evacuation of Srebrenica to the negotiations that sought to put an end to the Bosnian Serbs' siege of Sarajevo.
Why couldn't they just let us do it our way? Why wasn't the local police allowed to escort our children and provide the required security for the festival? Why couldn't we be allowed to create a festive atmosphere for an event that was about playing and having fun while making use of the unique quality inherent to football as a constructive tool in the peace process?
The Muslim children got off the bus. The local Bosnian-Serb children, still patiently lining up in four long columns, spontaneously started to applause. So did the 200 to 300 spectators who had gathered next to the playground. It was a completely unexpected reaction. Esko, my good friend and colleague and the man behind the event, wiped away a small pearl from the corner of the eye, shook his head with a smile and gave me a big hug.
"Magija" he said to me in Bosnian while holding me in his strong arms. "Fantastic" I replied. Thank you, Esko. Magija". Zoka was quick to fit the Muslim children into the rows according to their height and make them put on our T-shirts. Children who were in the second class went to the first row. Children who were in third class went to the second row etc.
It hardly took 15 minutes to get the children mixed and the groups formed, evenly divided among the 21 stations we had prepared the some 400 children were now ready for action. Esko blew his whistle to signal the first rotation. We had prepared the best and funniest games we could think off and after a few minutes we were totally absorbed by the children's activities, the atmosphere and performance. I totally forgot time, place and the situation.
Cross Cultures Project Association | CCPAThe atmosphere was great. Every single game had been given its own designated area, its own little intimate stage and collectively they provided a good, well-organized and joyful arena for the festival. It was as if the sports ground generated its own rhythm in time with the music we had brought along, streaming from the sports ground's loudspeaker system.
Now the trainers and former enemies played with and cheered the children in a way that sometimes made it difficult to distinguish between them and the kids. All the children were in non-stop motion at the same time. One hundred and forty footballs, 30 hula-hop rings and skipping ropes were hanging in the air and 400 happy children fought and laughed and clapped their hands and gave "high-five" to one another as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
It was the "ritual contest" when the best - the contest in which you challenge yourself and one another to try your strength just for the fun of the thing. The excitement of everybody formed a sharp contrast to the dramatic backdrop of the school's bombed-out gymnasium. It was as if past and present met in the ambiguous motif of the "battle" in Srebrenica, when the best and the worst.
It was "play" where the children continuously were challenged to do and explore. New games, new accessories and new ways of mastering and kicking the ball. It was the joyful and unpretentious atmosphere that allowed every one to try new things, to fail, to cheer and celebrate when you and your friends succeeded or to be annoyed and support one another, when you didn't make it.
It was children and adults in movement, together and individually. Children and adults who expressed themselves in the language of the body and play with the ball. Of course, it was not Laudrup's aesthetic balance and smooth run with the ball but it was the happiness and the body language that contributes to give sport a special quality. It was also concentration, of course, the time to work with details.
For example, it is funny to measure how hard one can kick a ball by means of our speedometers, but only the first three to five times. However, it is much more fun to play with the speedometers if you make the kids measure the speed at the same time as trying out different run-ups. What happens to the ball's speed and course following a long direct run-up when the body moves at high speed? How does it affect the ball's speed and course if you kick it from a standing position?
In my view this was sport when the best and, paradoxically, the event in Srebrenica helped me to express some of the qualities and the feelings inherent to sport, that fascinates me the most. As a spectator I am never in doubt when I witness something of high quality. Thus I have a vivid memory of the sublime pass from Laudrup to Sand in the match against Nigeria, a pass that of course would never have had the same fascinating and impressive impact without the subsequent run and shot by Sand.
And Anja Andersen, with her back to the goal looping the ball over the keeper following a spectacular stunt, faking a shot between her legs, is also among my most fascinating memories. These are the moments when breathing and weight, movement and coordination, strategy and action melt into each other and find their own unique rhythm.
Cross Cultures Project Association | CCPAIt is precisely the totality and the rhythm, which give sport its special quality and, in my view, the most fantastic thing about sport is that you do not have to be a superstar to experience these great moments. I am sure that all sportsmen, regardless of their own talent, can tell about the experience when time, space and situation fuse togetherand create their own metaphysical whole.
It was precisely this totality and rhythm - the heartbeat - I suddenly experienced during the football festival in Srebenica. The heartbeat which, as I believe, gives our football schools in the Balkans a special magic and which made my painful memories from wartime Bosnia disappear and left me with the same feeling of peaceful lightness as if a painful vacuum in my inner ear had finally gone away following a rough flight.
The event went well and without problems of any kind. Of course, in hindsight I am both happy and grateful that the SFOR forces came, also that they helped us get the children safely back to Vogosca after having spent an unparalleled day in Srebenica - enjoying the first multi-ethnic event in the town after the war.
Football Under Cover
By Jens Juul Petersen
Lebanese women are fighting a silent revolution on the football field through the popular club programme of CCPA Lebanon. Haifa and Huda are two young women on an important mission; they want to change Lebanese society by promoting gender equality and giving young girls the opportunities they didn't have themselves.
"We are here at the CCPA seminar because we want to change something", says 28 year old Huda Saad who together with her four year older friend Haifa Shihab is taking part in a seminar in Beirut for volunteers in the CCPA Popular Club programme. The two school teachers want to establish their own club for girls in their hometown al-Maarakeh.
"There is nothing like that in our town. All sports activities are for boys and men, but we want to make a club for girls - and only girls!", says Haifa, who has been living in the Southern town her entire life and is fed up with how society sees and treats girls and women: "We have had no opportunities to do sports and physical activities. It has been very frustrating for us."
Neither Huda nor Haifa has been playing a lot of sports during youth and childhood, but it doesn't mean that they don't want to: "We like sports and would love to do more. It is important to do sports, and with this club and activities I will force myself to train, play and be more active", says Haifa.
"The CCPA popular club project" is important and needed in Lebanon according to Huda Saad: "The existing clubs are not good. People in these clubs are only looking for talents and it is not important to them if the children have fun or not. It is all about being good, winning and finding talents, male talents!" Contrary to this, CCPA Lebanon is focusing on a mixed inclusion of children, regardless of gender, talent, social standing, religious and ethnic distinctions. "The CCPA popular club project" is working to support the development of an active civil society based on diversity and equality, where females are encouraged to take an active part in order to promote gender equality and non-discrimination.
The idea with popular clubs is new to the Middle Eastern country. And popular clubs for girls will be a revolution - especially in the Southern area of Huda and Haifa. "There are no associations which can help the girls. Everything is about men and boys. We want to change this and make clubs for girls, where they can have the opportunities, they deserve", Haifa says, and Huda continues: "We have so many skilled girls all over Lebanon who want to be active and play sports, but sadly the society and the men don't accept this".
The hometown of the two women is located in a conservative area around the city of Tyre, where patriarchal domination and cultural sensibilities have made it difficult for CCPA Lebanon to organize sports activities for girls and women. The local CCPA coordinator Adel Saad has experienced how complicated it is to attract girls and women to sports activities, not only in the South but all over the country:
"This is Lebanon, and it is not normal for girls to participate in sports outside the schools. We need to change this, but it should be done slowly."
Adel Saad is optimistic about involving girls: "I am sure that when we get started with the activities, we will not just have 20 girls playing. We will have 100 or maybe 200 coming to play. There have been no activities for girls earlier, but this doesn't mean that there isn't a need!"
By including girls in sports activities, Huda and Haifa hope that this will mean a lot to their society and especially to the general impression of women. Huda Saad says: "There is an idea here that girls with hijab don't do sports. Men think that we are not interested and don't like being active, but this is so wrong. We know many, many girls and women who are like us."
Haifa Shihab continues: "I want to change the impression that girls with hijab can't do anything except sitting at home being quiet. By doing sports we can change this and express ourselves!"
Involving women in sports is a small step for better conditions and equality for women in Lebanon, but it is a clever way to start changing society. In the very volatile country everything tends to be politicized, but grassroots sports are far from politics and therefore not dangerous to be involved in as for instance political parties and organisations.
Huda and Haifa chose to take active part in society through CCPA Lebanon because of the reputation of the organization in the area: "CCPA has succeeded other places, which is important for us. We don't want to fail again. We will not try in vain. Many other NGOs and organizations have been working in our region, but many are only showing off. CCPA seems more honest and serious", Haifa explains.
It is obvious that many people in Lebanon are not ready to deal with strong and independent women doing sports. Even these two women had to struggle before going to the CCPA seminar in Beirut, far away from their hometown. Haifa Shihab says: "Our families were against it. Staying at a hotel with 50 men is not a good thing to do for young decent women. We couldn't convince our families to allow us to go, so in the end we just said: khalass, we will go whether you like it or not. And now we are here - and hopefully we can gain a lot from it."
Haifa Shihab and Huda Saad have been looking forward to the seminar for a long time. Huda says: "Here we can meet other people with experience who can teach us something. We learn strategies and methods and how to dare sacrificing our efforts on this project. We will hopefully get more guts!" But it is not only the two women who are here to learn. According to Haifa, the male instructors and trainers also have many things to learn: "Some of the men here are not used to have women around them. But they have to learn this: women are also allowed on the playfield and to take part in society."
The small liberation battle for Huda, Haifa and their Lebanese sisters has started. There is still a long way to go, but Haifa is optimistic and motivated "We will need time. Things don't change overnight here, but we know that we can do it. We know that we can change how other people are seeing women. We can't lose faith - and we can't fail! But we need patience."
Return of a history professor
Anders Levinsen, Director, Cross Cultures
Recently, my Bosnian colleague forwarded me a copy of an article from the national newspaper "Oslobodenje". It was not about the Open Fun Football Schools or about football at all, but about a history professor who returned to Bosnia Herzegovina after living ten years in Aachen, Germany.
In the article the professor describes his current life in the borderland, where two different administrative systems are being administered side-by-side while cutting through local communities and municipalities.
He mentions the different education systems and how Serb children from Ustikolina are driving 30 km to join a Serb school rather than going to the local school; how the IPTF-line is cutting through building complexes and grave yards; how the stripes on the road have different colours in the Croatian Muslim Federation area and in the Serbian part of Bosnia Herzegovina, Republica Srpska.
Today, the only place the children are together, the professor claims, is in the local football club of Kolina! - one of the hundreds of clubs that has been formed in the wake of our Open Fun Football School programme.
Having battled for ten football seasons in order to use the children's grassroots football as instrument to create a multiethnic and integrated platform to link together divided communities, we now start to see the impact!
Testimonies from two girls
"My name is Dragana and I live in Foca. After the Open Fun Football School last year I feel in love with football and now I am impatiently waiting to enrol for the school next year. The football school affected me a great deal. Thanks to the school I have become friends with a lot of boys and girls from Ustikolina and Gorazde. My parents were not happy to let me go without them, but when I returned home from the school I was so happy and full of good experiences so that I hardly could wait to wake up again to meet with my new friends.
I recall our bus trips to the school where we laughed and sang the whole way. I spent the lunch break with my new friend Amra throwing water, telling jokes and other funny stuff from the school. The last day at the football school we exchanged phone numbers and addresses to maintain our friendship. Every time we speak on the phone we recall all the funny things we experienced together and we are looking forward to joining the Open Fun Football School again this summer and play together again."
- Dragana, Serbian girl from Foca, Republica Srpska, Bosnia-Herzegovina
"My name is Vesna and I love playing football. I love it because I meet a lot of girl friends through football. Open Fun Football Schools have helped me a lot. Some years ago there was a war going on here, which prevented us from going any where meeting other girls and boys. But on the football school we could do that. I met a girl called Alisa. We spent all the days together at the football school and were inseparable.
It was all very exiting and fun at the school. Our coaches played new games with us all the time. In particular I recall one day where we had a "water battle" during the break. We laughed so much that we got a stomach pain. The school ended after five days and we were sad to say goodbye. Open Fun Football Schools have made me love football. Not only because we are playing matches and each time attempt to win for us to be happy.
I have learnt that the most important thing is to be with your friends and have a fun time. We do not hate somebody because they have a different skin colour or religion. We are all equals. I hope that the same school is organised in my town, Foca, for me to meet old friends and get new friends."
- Vesna, Serbian girl from Foca,Republica Srpska, Bosnia-Herzegovina
"The children in the school tell me enthusiastically about the football school and they keep their diplomas and t-shirts as precious memories. We use the footballs and other equipment every day and believe me, we take good care of it!"
- Ms Chicha Gvalia, biology teacher at the camp school in Tskneti
"We train the kids every day using the principles of Open Fun Football Schools, but it is difficult to find room for allthe children that wants to play. We appreciate the support we receive from the OFFS programme, because it helps us tooccupy them with something healthy and positive in their leisure time, instead of them roaming around doing silly things."
Mr Mutav Vekuva,OFFS coach in Tskneti
From vision to miracle
By Stig Matthiesen
Four hours drive north from the airport in Sarajevo, through beautiful landscapes and Bosnian villages filled with red brick houses marked by bullet holes, lies Orasje - one of those towns in the Balkans, where too many graves were dug during the nineties. Here, where everybody has to live too close to the stories of war, the reigning president of Bosnian-Herzegovinian football resides.
The meeting with Iljo Dominkovic, aBosnian with a Croatian citizenship, takes place on a boat anchored on the river Sava. The river makes up the border to Croatia, which, on this first real spring-night of the year, can be seen faintly on the other bank. For ten long years of war the river was the only passageway to a civilised world. To the South, East and West the mines lay; in the city the hatred ruled. Today the new concrete bridge by the hotel Riviera secures contact with Zagreb.
Dominkovic has just driven his sick mother across the bridge to the hospital in the Croatian capital, and in spite of it having been a moving day, and the fact that he has to fly to a meeting in the UEFA committee tomorrow, he has not even thought about cancelling the interview. The football president has a story he would very much like to tell.
"Anders Levinsen came here with a dream in 1998. The war had barely ended and none of us knew how to move on with our lives." Darkness and hatred ruled. Dominkovic remembers and he tells about the boys and young men, who were not at the front, but who in spite of the horrors of the war still spend the waiting between battles playing unorganised football. "But none of us dreamt that we one day could play against the 'enemy'." At that time we had no personal contact with eachother. Everything took place on a diplomatic level in Zurich or Geneva, while we barely dared believe that the killings had stopped."
The football president remembers how the infrastructure of the country as well as the football association was destroyed, and how the football fields were often mined. "We stood in the middle of a human catastrophe. Young men had died by the thousands. Others were left with no limbs - not being able to play football. Not forgetting all of those who had fled and now lived other places in the world. It was pure hell." The president maintains with empty eyes and points out under his breath that he does not wish to speak more of the war.
After the silence he continues to tell about the world star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and with him the hundreds of other great talents, who today play the noble game under the flag of other nations. Young men in the prime of their football age, who all should carry the national shirt on this latitude. This fact torments the well-intentioned leader with the large heart for football. The president tells me of the eleven players, nominated to the Croatian national team for VM 1998 in France, who were born in Bosnia.
"The idea about the football schools bringing children together across borders changed everything at the time." Iljo Dominkovic maintains and speaks with a clear voice again after another passage under the power of his emotions. "Anders Levinsen came with an utopia. He spoke about one football for each child. He spoke about playing and happy children. Buthow could it be like that again? We were preoccupied and fascinated by the question, but many also had misgivings."
The first year 12 football schools were successfully arranged. "But it cost us a lot of effort, because you can not move people, who does not want to be moved. It was difficult to break the ice and make parents traumatized by war understand the importance of especially our children getting on after the war. The hatred between the adults clouded the project. They had a very hard time accepting that the children were our future. The bloody war was, and still is, deeply rooted in everybody in this region. Precisely because of this it was animating for everyone that Anders showed up with the idea to bring together the parties of the war around that which engage us all - football."
"Especially in Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro the idea of the schools was hard to take in. But for me Bosnia already was a multiethnic society, where all people should be allowed to live in peace. The football schools have helped in this regard and have brought back hope. Children with different nationalities and religious backgrounds, who really suffered during the years of war, were brought together with children from the neighbour towns, who had suffered accordingly. Anders Levinsen worked hard tireless. Everything was build from basis. He found good people all over the country, who understood his thoughts."
According to Dominkovic Danish Levinsen's great love for the game and for the people here in the Balkans has carried him, and infected everyone. "His vision of bringing people together has succeeded. The football schools are still important for the identity of this new nation, and the importance of the schools in the early years after the war can not be overestimated. Open Fun Football Schools - CCPA - has in so many words had a historical importance for this entire region. Without the schools we would not have been where we are today."
The president from Bosnia has told all this and more to the management of UEFA through the years. And he informs about the spin offs. That is to say that Dominkovic sees that the football associations in Bosnia-Herzegovina have been unified into one, and clubs, destroyed during the war, have been rebuild, using the logistics and the contacts that weremade to organise the football schools. The football schools has today been exported and has spread in the Trans-Caucasus and the Middle East.
"I am glad and proud of having been involved from the time the first football school came here. The schools have brought so many good things with them - first and foremost hopes for a better future for thousands and thousands of children, who have met each other in play rather than war. This way the children have educated the adults and lead us all further. This is in truth a miracle!" The voice of Iljo Dominkovic leaves no doubt.