How Football Saved the Ivory Coast
The man on the left is more interesting.
Didier Drogba is a footballer from the Ivory Coast, who played a vital role ending a civil war and bringing peace to his country. Moments after leadinghis nation to the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany back in October 2005 as captain, Drogba decided instinctively to take advantage of his country’s attention and the emotional wave they were on after the victory. He picked up a microphone in the dressing room and, surrounded by his team-mates, fell to his knees live on national television. He begged both warring factions to lay down their arms. It worked. Within a week, his bold wish had been granted.
Drogba then helped move the African Cup of Nations qualifier to the rebel stronghold of Bouake, bringing the warring leaders together to have to celebrate their nation and its sports stars. It was a move that helped cement the peace process after the cease fire. In September 2011, Drogba joined the Truth, Reconciliation and Dialogue Commission as a representative to help return peace to his home nation. Check out more information here.
UPDATE: There’s a doco making the festival rounds right now called The Beautiful Game which looks at the profound power soccer/football has in Africa. Drogba’s story is featured in it. Check it out at a festival near you! Cheers Scrumtruelescent for the heads up!
EXTRA-UPDATE: Fifigoggo has put me in my place about what a simplification it is to say that football ‘saved’ a country. I didn’t mean it as flippantly as that but she has nicely added context, that while Drogba’s actions led to great improvements there are still significant troubles in the Ivory Coast as civil war. We both agree however that Drogba is a legend, and that we should all want to have his babies. Check out her comments here.