ARUA. Onduparaka FC in their rich history of community development has yet moved into a new partnership dubbed football for peace with VSI foundation.

Through the partnership, the two parties are expected to undertake sports activities targeting youth and children living in Omugo and Palabek settlements for a period of three years.

AVSI is an international non-profit making organization formed in 1972 in Italy carrying out development cooperation and humanitarian aid across the world.

“This project doesn’t have a direct monetary benefit to Onduparaka football club but being a community club, our desire is to go beyond the physical playing on the pitch to ensure the club is not detached from the community and so we feel privileged to work with likeminded entities” Ms Mercy Munduru, the club head of communication and marketing said at the launch of the new partnership in Arua town on Thursday.

The club has in the recent had similar community transforming partnerships with Everton football club that plays in the English league and CARE international.

Under the current arrangement, Onduparaka FC will train local coaches, use football as a vehicle to educate local communities, inspire, innovate and offer opportunities to train in sports and promote peaceful coexistence between the youth of different tribes and nationalities.

“We are very happy to enter into this partnership because we share the same commitment in engaging the youth who can be exposed to many dangers during times of displacement especially for the adolescents”, Ms Maria Gaundenzi, the area team leader for AVSI foundation said at the press conference.

She said since 2017 when the organization began its programs, over 5000 youth have been reached with activities including football, volleyball, basketball, indoor games and educative movies among others.

18-year old Justine Sala, the captain of Omugo Central United football club who also addressed the press conference said sport has had the most transforming effect on him and his colleagues since fleeing the war in South Sudan.

Justine Sala 03 05 19Justine Sala, the captain of Omugo Central United Football Club speaks during the press conference.

“I am so happy and surprised at the same time because I didn’t think I would ever meet some of you people, we have forgotten all the things that happened and all the trauma because of football,” Sala said.

He said his peers who were inclined towards bad behaviour at their arrival have totally transformed and he described the club as being his family.

Sala has since with some of his colleagues returned to school and got a sponsorship due to his excellent skills in football. He dreams of becoming a professional footballer in the future.