Football PP - photo 1While football in the United States is gearing up to start, a different type of football is also gearing up in Nigeria. On August 3, 2013, the Football for Peace Project in Kaduna State, Nigeria drew the attention of many volunteers and football, or soccer, players.

In Kaduna State, football is used as a tool to better communicate and understand one another. Football is a common interest amongst the public, so it was only natural that Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) students, along with non-alumni alike, used football as a tool to break down barriers and promote peace.

“Football is like a language, which a lot of people understand regardless of their culture, religion, or beliefs,” YES alumni, Aisha said. The Football of Peace Project created an outstanding opportunity for the citizens of Kaduna State, Nigeria, and surrounding areas to forget about their differences and focus on something they all understand and appreciate: football. Football PP - photo 3

The Football for Peace Project was designed with the intent to help others understand that what matters about the game is to score a goal, not to pay attention to each other differences based on religion or tribe.

The ultimate mission of this project was to bring Nigerians together, despite their differences and in light of all their conflicts, and to appreciate what they have in common—the love of football. Muslims and Christians alike gathered to this event to forget about their differences and celebrate and share their love of football.

Here at IRIS we are proud of our alumni and volunteers alike for making such a profound impact on Kaduna State, Nigeria. We hope that our alumni can continue to join us on our twenty-year mission to promote international understanding, development, and peace by connecting Iowa to individuals and communities worldwide. As we continue to promote peace and understanding throughout Iowa, we are always ecstatic to hear about the amazing projects, like the Football for Peace Project, that our alumni have been involved in. If you would like to share you alumni story, please email us at

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