Sports project overcomes social divides in Bosnia

Despite the end of the Bosnian war in 1995, hardened fronts are still noticeable in society in Bosnia and Herzegovina today. The country is still divided by war, different cultures, religions and people’s origins. Children who were not involved in the conflict at the time want unity. CBN’s children’s charity, Orphan’s Promise, has heard this wish of the children in Jajce and has made it its mission to help them realize their dream of overcoming borders and building communication and friendships – all through sports. 

The sports project in Jajce 

This project was launched in 2014 on the initiative of our CBN Balkan leader Vanja Bule. At that time she was leading the project, which she has since handed over to Edina Hajder, the coordinator of Orphan’s Promise. Vanja explains, “The main goal of this project is to stand by the children and offer them a place where they can come together and break down their social and religious barriers to each other. Here, children and young people aged 6-19 of all backgrounds and religions have a place.”  

Every week, up to 35 children and young people take part in the sports activities. They play soccer, tennis or field hockey, for example. These offers take place every Tuesday and Saturday in a sports hall in the community. There, they are coached by Edina. 

More than just sports 

In the meantime, there is a meal for the children after each sports program. They sit together at the same table and learn to talk to each other. The food is made possible through donations from a local humanitarian organization and a partnership with a local church.  

Interestingly, through these children, their family members and friends also begin to get involved. For example, they help in the clothing closet, at the food bank, or participate in workshops. Thus, many people are reached beyond the children. So far, a total of 120 people have become involved in this social transformation process and are showing a willingness to break down barriers to the other. As a result, the distance between people is gradually beginning to dissolve. 

Education as an important aspect  

In the partner church building, the garage has been converted into a learning room. In this room, children and teenagers can get tutoring after sports. Twice a week, Edina leads this offer and supports the children with their schoolwork.  

Vanja Bule is convinced that sport connects and overcomes borders, that sport creates a common platform for all people. “We are happy to be part of this process of social change and to be able to offer a place of encounter where people get to know each other and learn to discard old thought patterns based on mutual prejudices. In the meantime, the children not only play together, but also travel together to tournaments and go on children’s and boys’ camps together. They make new friends in the process – and that opens up a whole new perspective for Bosnia in the future.”   

Edina says that last year the children even won a trophy in soccer and medals in tennis. There was a barbecue for all the teams at the end of the tournament. You can see that new things are being created. Through sports, a community is being redefined. These kids are growing into a new generation of people who are learning through sports not only important life principles like taking care of their bodies and living an active life, but also teamwork and cohesion. 

This is how a community and an entire generation is changed through sports! 


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