A football tournament for children will be organized Saturday in a local community outside the city of Doboj, in a bid to bridge the divide between the local ethic groups in the area. Some one hundred children from both sides of the entity line zigzagging the Doboj area are expected to compete in the tournament in Grapska community, which will be opened by the Swiss ambassador to Bosnia and Doboj mayor.
“Football is a very powerful instrument of integration and friendship. For example the (Swiss) national team coach is from Bosnia; the players have roots in Portugal, Spain, Albania, Kosovo, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and of course Switzerland. But they are all Swiss and they are all friends. Football connects them, and it connects (Switzerland),” said ambassador Andrea Rauber Saxer.
Grabska is a Bosniak returnee community in the part of the Doboj area dominated by the Serbs.
The tournament is supported by the Open Fun Football Schools, a program of the Cross Cultures Project Association. The Open Fun Football Schools was launched in postwar Bosnia in 1998. The idea, built on an assumption that by playing football together the participants would start demystifying each other and it could help them re-establish broken bonds, was to give children and young adults a safe space for interaction and adults a legitimate excuse to interact with those from the other side of the wartime divide.