Alramadi – September 2019
The Peace Forum in Ramadi, in cooperation with the Directorate of Youth and Sports, and the Norwegian Refugee Council held a chess tournament from 25 – 29 August. It is the first of its kind to be held in Ramadi since its liberation from Daesh. The tournament was for formerly displaced people, and aimed to use sports and games to integrate them back into the community.
The young organizers successfully managed the 5-day tournament, involving 75 participants, all returning to Ramadi after having been forced to flee. The tournament itself was divided into the following categories: children, youth, men, and women. Each day was allocated to one of these groups, and the final day celebrated with a closing ceremony and the presentation of awards.
Nour Aldin Al-Hamdani, an activist from the Peace Forum in Ramadi, described some of the success stories which occurred during this important event: “Although the tournament is the first of its kind in the province since the war of Daesh, we have seen wide participation from many different areas, such as Alkurma, the Ramadi countryside, and the city center.” The tournament also included significant participation from women. The oldest player was a 59-year-old woman, whose words moved Hamdani: “She expressed a beautiful message that women of all ages should participate in such activities.” Player of both sexes reached the finals, a very gifted young girl and boy.
The tournament represented an important gathering for those older participants who are already avid chess players as well as young people and children who have not yet had much experience to develop their skills in the game. This mix of different skill levels and different ages resulted in the passing of experiences to new generations. The Olympic Federation promised to support a number of talented children who demonstrated good skills in this tournament, giving them the opportunity to participate in international and local tournaments as a means of cultivating their skills even further. The tournament highlighted the fact that the city of Ramadi has creative and talented residents who may have a real future in chess, a game of insight and intelligence.
The youth of Ramadi published pictures of the tournament on their social networks, and the reaction from followers and the public was enthusiastic and cheerful, and this positive feedback came both from within the province of Ramadi and outside it.
Because of the undeniable success of such activities, activists in the Ramadi Peace Forum argue that peacebuilding is possible through sports and games that target youth, children, and women. These activities use a sense of fun and inclusive engagement to reintegrate those who had been displaced, eliminating the differences and fears that are created by war and conflict. The Ramadi Peace Forum is an open social space established in 2017 with specialized thematic masarat (paths) including the Peacebuilding masar. The activists of the forum have already started planning other sports activities for the near future, one of them is holding a bicycle race in remote areas of Ramadi.