The U.S Embassy in Abuja has engaged some Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Federal Capital Territory in a three-month soccer buddy project.
The embassy descibed the project is as a tool for re-orientation, leadership and civic duties training.
Ms Kathleen FlitzGibbon, the U.S Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, said this in Abuja on Saturday during the closing ceremony of the Soccer Academy for IDPS at the Kuchin Goro IDPs Camp.
FlitzGibbon said that the sports academy was part of humanitarian activities of the U.S Embassy in Nigeria aimed at fostering unity and good behaviours among the displaced persons.
“We love sports and have seen that sport is a unifying activity for people and it is one way to reach out to the youths and get everybody involved in a positive activity.
“When you play sport there is no time for crimes.
“We do a lot for IDPs in terms of our humanitarian assistance, but this type of programme actually helps a lot when you see kids out there thinking of things besides their situation.
“We actually invest in this programme twice, one last year and one this year, with about 20,000 dollars to 25, 000 dollars.
“With a little bit of money, you can actually do a lot in Nigeria.
“That is not much in terms of our overall humanitarian budget, but look at the lives it is touching; so that is my call to other people to think about because it goes a long way in keeping good citizens, “FlitzGibbon said.
FlitzGiibbon said that in addition to the sport activities, IDPs, who attended the Academy, also learnt about leadership and civic duties through various seminars organised.
She said that the leadership programme was aimed at empowering local community leadership to be self reliant, responsible and accountable.
The deputy chief of mission said that making people accountable and responsible to their communities had made the initiative more sustainable.
FlitzGibbon said that America was very generous and supportive of humanitarian efforts and had invested a lot in assisting those with humanitarian challenges in Nigeria’s North East.
She said that Americans did not like to see other people suffering, but really liked to do things to make life easier for those who were in crises.
FlitzGibbon said that the U.S Embassy work with the Nigerian government and through a lot of implementing partners in the North.
“We work in conjunction with the government to find out what the need is, what gaps need to be filled.
“And then we come in with a programmes through partnership with the government and then we implement through NGOs, because we believe NGOs are the way to build capacities for future response, ” she said.
Responding on behalf of the IDPs, Alh Usman Adamu, Vice Chairman of the Camp, commended the U.S. for the initiative, which he said, was a great support to them.
“This is one of the best support for us in the camp. It makes the people happy.
“The Parents are happy and the children are also happy because things like this will make us forget about our predicament and help to build us, ” he said.
Adamu said that there were 420 children in the camp and 40 of them participated in the soccer academy which included 40 male and 20 female.
He also commended the Nigerian Government, the United Nations, German and other African Embassies, religious groups, NGOs and individuals for their continuous support in alleviating their plights.
Edited by Olabisi Akinbode/Tajudeen Atitebi