The Power of Futbol
September 15th 2016. CAC volunteer Alicia Calcagni writes about our work with Uni Papua in Tamika, Indonesia.
As we drive through a village half a mile long at 11:30 am with our windows rolled down, we watch soldiers of two tribes sharpen their arrows and knives, preparing for battle at noon. It is lightly raining and puddles have started to form on both sides of the bumpy dirt road. We are informed that it is their designated lunch break, we missed combat by a mere 30 minutes. Their battle is one of many in a continuous war — maybe over a killed pig, a woman, a dirty look… It doesn’t take much. When there is a conflict, death follows. Soldiers include men, women, and children. Entering the “red zone” we pass one woman who is walking with her two little ones while gripping two sharpened knives in one hand. We continue driving past groups of men casually hanging out on their porches, drinking some water simultaneously guarding their bows, which are as tall as their bodies. Our driver then tells us we must say “Amola! (Hello)!” to everyone we pass in the village to state our presence, or else we will be attacked. Quote, “If you do not say hi, they will attack.” Feeling their intense glare burn through my skin, I start shyly waving my right hand out of the window. Doing anything and everything to avoid eye contact. The battlefield is in the middle of the village, between the two tribes: Kwangju Lana and Kuala Kencan. It is a small open dirt patch with, I kid you not, a church in the middle. The daily battles must end in a draw. If three from one tribe are killed, three from the other must be killed as well. So while lives are lost, a conclusion does not grow any closer. In the middle of this madness there is a soccer pitch. It sits right on the dividing line of the villages. The two tribes have named it a “safe zone.” For however long, enemies come together to play a futbol match with no bows and no knives. How much strength does a soccer ball truly posses? Just enough to create peace. This is the true power of futbol.
I am proud to be a teacher of the game that brings various communities together. I am confident in coaching soccer for social change and making our world a better place.