Football workshops teach young people new skills including resilience to extremism

07 July 2022
Girls playing football in the Maldives

Over 200 take part in scheme and football tournament in the Maldives.

The Commonwealth Secretariat - in partnership with charity Football for Peace Foundation UK (FfP) and the Football Association of Maldives (FAM) - delivered a series of workshops across the Maldives focusing on how football can be used to as a tool to build resilience against extremism. 

Taking place in Male, Eydhafushi, and Addu City from June 20th to 28th, the programme engaged over 200 participants through a series of interactive workshops and meetings and culminated in a football tournament for young boys and girls in Addu City Island.

In the context of the wider safeguarding agenda in the Maldives, staff from different Island Councils, the Football Association, young people and parents, gained insights into how football can be used as a medium to empower young people and communities in building their resilience to extremism. This included awareness of how digital literacy can support efforts to prevent online recruitment to extremist ideologies.

Boys playing football in Maldives

Empowering sport

Mark Albon, Head of the Countering Violent Extremism at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said:

“These workshops were designed to empower communities to reject extremist ideas through the unifying and empowering nature of football. Thanks to globalisation and the internet, life in the 21st century has never been so interconnected. So, it is vital we equip communities with the tools to reject the spread of violent extremist ideologies and to protect and empower young people to do the same.”

Anjum Afzal, Director of International Relations, Football Association of Maldives (FAM), said:

“It was great to continue our work with the Commonwealth Secretariat who we worked with as part of the 1st South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Regional Safeguarding Seminar in October 2021. Through this partnership, we hope to establish a framework that will drive action and active participation in using football as a tool for social impact.”

One of the key aims of the project was to encourage young people back onto pitches, and to highlight the transferable skills football can give to young people in addressing a range of social challenges. Football has the unique ability to offer skills that can be used both on and off the pitch, including ‘soft’ transferable skills such as team building and communication skills.

Diversity and respect

Sport is universally recognised as a way to promote diversity, respect, tolerance and positive relationships between people - regardless of faith, race, or culture. It also empowers individuals and communities by building a sense of community and belonging.


  • In April 2021, the Maldives wrote to the Commonwealth Secretary-General requesting further assistance and expertise from the Commonwealth Secretariat in supporting the Maldives to enhance capacity to prevent and combat violent extremism.
  • Research conducted by the National Counter Terrorism Centre conducted in nine of the 23 atolls in the Maldives found that most parents lacked knowledge about indicators of violent extremism, or of threats faced by young people, and do not have the parenting skills to engage their children on how to resist ideas spread by hate groups.
  • The Commonwealth supports international efforts to counter violent extremism in all its forms.
  • Commonwealth Heads of Government have affirmed that violent extremism represents a serious threat to international peace and security, shared values and aspirations, social harmony and economic and social development.
  • In line with the mandate given by leaders at their Malta summit, and restated at the 2018 and 2022 summits, the Commonwealth Secretariat has developed a integrated and focussed CVE programme to support national strategies to counter violent extremism across the Commonwealth. The Unit was established Secretariat in 2017.
  • Our programme work leverages decades of experience in supporting governments – for example in strengthening the rule of law, human rights and youth empowerment – while drawing on the shared values, cultural and regional diversity of the Commonwealth.
  • Heads have also previously encouraged Commonwealth member countries to work with the Commonwealth Secretariat CVE Unit and the Commonwealth Cadre of CVE Experts, to develop policies or action plans that actively involve young people and women in preventing and countering violent extremism and take action to counter the use of the internet by violent extremist groups.

Visit the Commonwealth CVE Unit




Media contact

  • Amy Coles  Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • E-mail