Honduras: Bringing together rival fan clubs for peace

June 18, 2014

Sports clubs in Honduras have originally been formed by vulnerable and at-risk youth. Some of these clubs have become violent when supporting their football teams. Interpeace is working together with these fan clubs who are often perceived as troublemakers to initiative a transformation that will turn the young people involved in these groups into change makers and active peacebuilders. The Sports Clubs for Peace project was implemented by Interpeace’s Central American Youth Programme and is¬†supported by the Berghof Foundation. It aims to training the young leaders of the two main football supporter clubs in conflict resolution strategies.

Interpeace works to strengthen the capacities of the leaders of the sports clubs to address conflicts in non-violent and creative ways, while ensuring that the clubs are recognized as important actors in Honduras. A three day workshop earlier this year brought together young leaders of two rival fan clubs to reflect on issues of violence and peace in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The leaders of the Revolucionarios and Ultra Fiel fan clubs engaged in teambuilding activities and made proposals for action that could lead to the positive transformation of their communities.

Fan clubs as channels for peacebuilding

Isabel Aguilar Uma√Īa, Director of Interpeace’s Central American Youth Programme, explained: “Usually supporter organizations, which mainly consist of youth who come together in support of a specific sports team, are considered to be hubs of juvenile aggression. The members of these organizations tend to be equated with gang members and are often feared.” By bringing the rival groups together to discuss strategies for non-violence, the supporter clubs can shed their negative image and tackle the issue of youth violence. As the supporter groups learn to resolve conflicts with non-violence they will become recognized as important actors in creating peace in Tegucigalpa.

Club members propose solutions to address youth violence

Young people, especially teenagers, are often victims of homicide and street violence in Honduras. The workshop showed how meetings between football fan organizations could create an environment of trust where the youth reflect on conflict and become innovators of social change. The conference also allowed the two rival supporter groups to meet and reduce the tension between their organizations. “Those who are here today already have one less enemy on the street,” stated one participant. The programme encourages the members of the supporter clubs to promote ideas of non-violence and reject confrontation in the streets.

Clubs bridge rivalry to promote change in Honduras

An equal number of young people from the two supporter clubs attended the first training workshop. Leaders of the groups commended the meeting as “historic” since the Ultra Fiel and Revolucionarios organizations have traditionally been rivals. The meeting created a friendly atmosphere as the two groups cooperated and proposed various ideas on how to create change in the country.