15 Organizations Using Sports for Peace

Check out these amazing organizations using sports for peace and learn how you can too. Also discover groups using games and play for peace.

by Taylor O’Connor | 2 July 2024

sports for peace


“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination. – Nelson Mandela

Some of my earliest experiences working with grassroots peacebuilders were with programs that included the use of sports for peace. I remember the feeling of excitement of my grassroots peacebuilder friends in organizing such activities, bringing together young people across societal divisions to play sports together.

And while they were very exciting and beneficial for participants and wider communities, I remember my friends discussing the challenges of coordinating such events and of uncertainty if their sport activities were as effective as they had hoped for the promotion of social cohesion, their main goal.

These are valid concerns. Coordinating sport activities in conflict-affected contexts can be challenging. And it might not be clear the impact of such activities. I think some of these challenges can be overcome with access to good examples of organizations with quality programs on the use of sport, games and play for peace, but reviewing the resources they have produced, and learning from their examples.

So I have produced this blog post to share some great examples of organizations that use sport, games and play for peace. In here you can find inspiring examples and some resources that may give you some inspiration and ideas for how to use sport, games and play in your peacebuilding activities.


What I learned researching organizations using sport, games and play to build peace

In preparing for this blog post, I reviewed my database of peace organizations and produced a long list of organizations using sport for peace. I found that while there are many organizations using sport for peace, most of them use sport as just one activity of many activities. Also, most organizations using sport for peace are smaller, local organizations which I couldn’t include as few have websites.

Many organizations use sport, games and play for peace explicitly to promote social cohesion and inclusion. Some focus on social-emotional skills development and empathy gained when working in diverse groups, often across divides. Most sport for peace activities are grassroots initiatives that focus on the community level. Some organizations use sport events for advocacy and a few have developed very innovative approaches for using sport, games and play for peace. Many organizations recognize multiple interlinking benefits of sport, games and play to build peace.


Organizations using sport for peace

I have organized this into 4 sections:

  • Organizations dedicated to sport for peace
  • Biking and marathons for peace
  • Organizations with programming related to sport for peace
  • Organizations that use games and play for peace


Organizations dedicated to sport for peace

While there are many organizations that use sports in their peace activities, there are relatively few that have sport and peace as their main focus. I have listed four below. The first three operate programming internationally while the last is a specific program in one country. There are likely more national organizations, but this is the one I found that has the best website as an example of a national organization using sport for peace.


The Peace and Sport

Peace and Sport has been promoting the power of sport to create a world of peace, inclusivity, and fairness since 2007. They take a bottom-up approach, supporting sport and peace initiatives at the community level, creating high-impact programs that build a culture of peace through the incredible medium of sports.

How they use sport to build peace: Peace and Sport collaborates with leading international organizations, sports institutions, and top athletes to promote peace and sport. They have their own peace and sport methodology that they train on and they develop practical resources on the use of sport for peace that they make freely available on their website.


Athletes United for Peace (AUP)

Athletes United for Peace (AUP) promotes peace, education, and friendship through sports. AUP carries out their programming through strategic partnerships with sports organizations, educational institutions, law enforcement, and nonprofits.

How they use sport to build peace: In their programming AUP tries to harness the positive qualities of sports to break down cultural barriers and unite people from all walks of life. In so doing, they believe their work can spark a worldwide culture of peace.


The PeacePlayers International

PeacePlayers International is a global youth movement that uses basketball to promote peace and equity. They work in the United States, the Middle East, Northern Ireland and South Africa.

How they use sport to build peace: Through basketball programming, peace education, and leadership development, they transform the lives of youth living in conflict-affected communities, empowering them to become catalysts for lasting change. They use basketball to create safe spaces for positive contact between people from divided groups to transform negative attitudes and develop friendships. They training and support youth leaders to conduct basketball activities, and to support them and participants to develop capacities as agents of change in their communities and beyond.


Associação Jadir de Taekwondo (AJTKD)

Associação Jadir de Taekwondo (AJTKD) uses the power of Taekwondo to build a more fair and sustainable world. AJTKD provides free Taekwondo classes and engaging activities to children, youth and communities from underprivileged areas of Brazil. Their activities empower individuals to thrive amidst the challenges of poverty and drug use, while promoting social inclusion and peacebuilding.

How they use sport to build peace: Through the magic of sport, AJTKD welcomes, educates, and builds essential skills in children and youth, enabling them to rise above adversity and create a brighter, more peaceful future. They have five key areas of action that they integrate in their programming – social inclusion, peacebuilding, health and well-being, gender equality, and environmental education.



Biking and marathons for peace

I made a separate category for biking and marathons for peace as some organizations focus explicitly on either of these.


The Bikes not Bombs

Bikes not Bombs seeks to harness the power of bicycles as a tool for social change, empowering Black and other marginalized individuals in Boston and the Global South to achieve economic mobility.

How they use sport to build peace: Their approach focuses on the explicit inclusion of all people across any divide and acting in solidarity with local and international partners. In so doing they believe that they amplify their impact and challenge systemic oppression. Their approach focuses on both peace and justice explicitly.


Bike for Peace

Bike for Peace is a Norwegian-based peace organization, dedicated to organizing peace bicycle rides all over the world.

How they use sport to build peace: They collaborate with peace organizations, schools, and universities, and use their bike rides as an event to advocate against nuclear weapons. Their events and associated campaigns focus on creating awareness about the dangers of nuclear weapons and war, at the national and global levels.


The Somaliland Marathon

Somaliland Marathon is an annual event in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. They use the event of the marathon to shine a spotlight on this amazing and welcoming country of Somalia, encouraging athletes and citizens from around the world to participate.

How they use sport to build peace: The Somaliland Marathon welcomes all runners, regardless of sex, creed, color, or national origin and aims to promote sport and the welcoming environment of Somalia. The event seeks to transcend barriers and promote a positive, peaceful vision of Somalia. They believe in the transformative power of collective action in creating a more just and peaceful society.


The Marathon of Afghanistan

The Marathon of Afghanistan is an empowering event, creating positive stories, fostering pride, and bringing people together to enjoy the transformative power of sports. The event has always taken place in the Bamyan region of Afghanistan, a place known for its beautiful landscapes.

How they use sport to build peace: The event is used to promote a culture of respect, teamwork, empathy, and healthy lifestyles. It also aims to transform peoples’ vision of Afghanistan as a place of instability, conflict, or poverty, that they recognize it is also a country with a long history, great beauty, and incredible generosity. The marathon is a space to create positive stories, a sense of pride, and a way for people to enjoy themselves together, despite all the challenges.


Organizations with programming related to sport for peace

Many peacebuilding organizations include sport as one of their programs or activities. Often, sport is one activity conducted as part of a program where other creative approaches are taken like art, music, theater, etc. I have included two good examples, though there are certainly many more that exist that don’t have websites.


The Generations for Peace Jordan AND Generations for Peace USA

Generations for Peace works for sustainable conflict transformation at the grassroots. Their core approach is to train and support volunteer youth leaders to promote active tolerance and responsible citizenship in communities experiencing different forms of conflict and violence. Generations for Peace began in Jordan, and later expanded to include programs in the United States at Generations for Peace USA.

How they use sport to build peace: Sport-based games and art are key approaches they use when working with youth leaders and grassroots communities. They also integrate advocacy, dialogue, empowerment, and media activities in their programming. Their program model is carried out in diverse contexts as they support their youth leaders to carry out activities that address cultural and structural violence issues in their communities, where contexts include inter-tribal, inter-ethnic, inter-religious violence; gender inequality; exclusion of minorities; post-conflict trauma response; and reconciliation and reintegration.


The Peace Through Sports Program | of The Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI)

The Peace Through Sports Program of WPDI is a program that began in camps for displaced persons in South Sudan and is not carried out in other contexts. WPDI manages a Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN) that carries out a number of programs in different countries around the world.

How they use sport to build peace: WPDI sees the potential of sports to connect people across cultures, religions, nationalities, languages, and other divides. Their Peace Through Sports Program provides opportunities for persons affected by conflict to have a constructive outlet for their energy while also offering a safe space for psychosocial healing.


Organizations that use games and play for peace

Below you will see four organizations that use games and play for peace. These are experiential approaches to building peace that aren’t necessarily explicitly sport. Some have their own play-based methodologies that are very innovative.


Master Peace

Master Peace is is a grassroots movement for peace that operates through local clubs in over 45 countries. The Master Peace team trains and supports youth leaders to set up their clubs and to carry out peace activities using music, art and play. They also carry out trainings, social entrepreneurship activities, and dialogue initiatives.

How they use games and play to build peace: Play, music and art are integrated into the core approaches of all Master Peace activities.


Play for Peace

Play for Peace uses their own play-based methodology to support young leaders to be catalysts of positive change in their communities. They operate in schools, community centers, refugee camps and through local organizations. Youth leaders facilitate cooperative play sessions for younger children and lead community building projects that benefit whole neighborhoods.

How they use games and play to build peace: Play for Peace has their own play-based peacebuilding methodology that they use to train youth leaders to facilitate cooperative play activities with young people and lead community development initiatives. They believe that youth-led cooperative play has the power to bring together people from different nationalities, religions, and backgrounds to find common ground, build friendships, and create a more peaceful world.


Right to Play

Right To Play works to empower children to overcome challenges such as violence, child labor, and inequality through the power of play. They use various forms of play such as games, sport, poetry, and music to equip children with the skills to drive positive change in their lives and communities.

How they use games and play to build peace: Right to Play uses play and sports as a tool to bring children together from diverse backgrounds and cultures to foster understanding, cooperation, and social inclusion. By engaging children in organized activities, they seek to promote teamwork, respect, and empathy towards others. Their work provides children with opportunities to learn important life skills such as conflict resolution, critical thinking, and leadership that they be better equipped to build peaceful communities.


World Peace Game Foundation

The World Peace Game Foundation uses a specific game that they developed to engage active conflict resolution skills. The game is called The World Peace Game. It is a hands-on political simulation that engages teams of students to solve complex problems of global war.

How they use games and play to build peace: The game is a simulation with an evolving storyline influenced by the teams of students. Students must work together to analyze the economic, social, and environmental crises facing the global community with the goal of achieving global prosperity and preventing the threat of war. The game is accompanied by a book and a film and the World Peace Game Foundation offers training for educators to become facilitators of the game.


Use sport, games and play in your peace activities


I hope these organizations I’ve shared above were useful for you. I hope you found some inspiring examples that can give you some ideas for how you can use sport, games and art to build peace. And perhaps you have found some resources from their websites that you can use to plan programs and initiatives that use sport, games and play for peace.



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