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Football and the First World War in West Africa

Successfully sending volunteers abroad for 10 years

When Jack Murray joined Joe Wairegi in Kenya to launch the Agape Football Academy, he cited football’s power “to create unity out of division, joy from sadness” as one reason he wanted to develop a project providing training and opportunities to young girls and boys.

It’s fitting, then, that the Agape Football Academy took off in the year of the centenary of the First World War’s Christmas truce, the series of widespread but unofficial ceasefires which took root on the western front during December 1914.

Famously, several games of football broke out in the no-man’s land between the trenches, bringing together soldiers from both sides of the conflict. The Christmas football games of 1914 are an enduring image of joy in a place of sorrow and unity in the midst of division.

This potent symbolism has not been lost on the diplomatic officials of Ghana, Togo, and the British High Commission, who competed in a friendly game on 06 December. As with parts of Africa, the First World War brought conflict to Ghana and Togo, with large numbers of Africans drafted in to defend British, German and French interests. As well as marking the centenary of the Christmas truce matches, this friendly celebrated the peace between these two countries and commemorates the Ghanaians and Togolese killed in the First World War.

We’re looking for energetic international volunteers who can carry on the work Jack and Joe have started. If you love football and believe in what it can do, why not get off the bench and apply now for our sports programme in Kenya or donate to the Academy?

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