I read this 2 days ago and i felt that i had to translate it for you guys, it is from the Assyrian Youth Association in sweden...Today the world's biggest sports festival, the World Cup in South Africa will start. In 2 days the derby between Assyriska FF and Syrianska FC will also be played, for the fifth time. Football is used as a tool of resolving conflicts in many parts of the world. But at our derby games it is the opposite and football is usually misunderstood and misused to incite conflict among our youth. Let us break these negative trends and make our derby matches real festivals for our people where we all can have a good time and enjoy it, because in the long run we are all losers if we coach our children against each other. Writes journalist Kurt Augin in a chronicle of what football is really about.
Yesterday, I listened to an interesting story in the “StudioEtt” on Swedish Radio, which was aired directly from Durban, said to be the capital of football in South Africa. Much of it was about football and the role it has as a conflict solver, and how football stars like Didier Drogba mediated a lasting peace in his home country Ivory Coast, which suffered from a civil war. In some African countries, children are used by various militias, where they are brainwashed and trained to become real killing machines. When these children are taken care of, football is used as a tool to let former child soldiers identify themselves with a football team instead of their old militia. This is done by mixing children from different sides, into the same football team which then helps the community to reconciliation and brotherhood.
Within our own youth, football is also an important identification factor. The Assyrian supporters identify themselves strongly with their team AFF and Arameeans with their team Syrianska. These are quite natural feelings, as long as adults don’t poison the youth with bad attitude and filling them with hate towards the other side. To love and adore a team is one thing, but to really hate your opponents is a completely alien thought in both football and other sports, that is not the purpose of sport. There is a red line that you can not cross.
Unfortunately, this line has been crossed at some of the previous derby games held between the Assyriska FF and Syrianska FC. A few years ago the Arameean side instigated to a point where even the church bells rang, in the district Geneta, Södertälje, to celebrate Syrianska FC's victory against Assyriska FF, many of the supporters reacted strongly towards this, and thought that it had gone too far. It was just about two ordinary teams playing a football match. You can certainly rejoice the victory, by seeing young people driving around and waving their flags. But it went too far when the bishop himself held a burning speech that encouraged Arameeans to rival against the Assyrian side, and when the church bells rang.
In the last derby last fall, the mood became vicious again after the match, it ended with one of the Assyrian Association's building was set on fire, after the fans victory celebration that night. Whoever has done it is still not known and the building is still not rebuilt.
With this, I don’t want to say that one side is made up of angels and the other one of demons. There are certainly troublemakers with temperament within both sides. But it is obvious that it can go very far towards the wrong direction if the adults abuse the situation to create more conflict between our people and our youth. Let us all be vigilant and make the derby games a real festival where we can all have fun and share joy instead of creating more hate and splitting between our people.