Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Prince William: Football has the power to unite

Prince William attended an event in Stratford. Credit: PA

The Duke of Cambridge has praised the power of football to unite people, as he joined sporting stars to help to kick down a wall symbolising hate and division.

William, dressed down in Nike trainers, was among a line-up including Arsenal great Mesut Ozil and ex-Manchester United player Louis Saha at a charity event in east London.

After taking aim at the wall he laughed and clapped alongside the footballers and young people at the Copper Box Arena as balls flew through the air and blocks featuring the words hate, violence, division and conflict collapsed.

William commended the Football for Peace charity as it launched its #FootballSavesLives campaign on Thursday.

He told the crowd, which included former Chelsea manager Avram Grant as well as young people graduating from the charity's UK City for Peace programme, that football is "part of the fabric of this nation".

He said: "All of you Young Peace Leaders here today have worked together, played together and learned to confront pre-conceptions, stereotypes and negative ideologies."

He told them "you are our future - metaphorically and literally breaking down walls".

Prince William listening to a talk during the event. Credit: PA

The charity aims to encourage young people in marginalised communities around the world to address and overcome their differences through a shared love of the game.

The new campaign involves a pledge to train 500 young people across the UK to become peace leaders by 2020.

William recalled his visit to the Middle East earlier this year, where he took part in an event in Israel using sport to bring together Jewish and Arab communities.

  • Anthony Schiavo, Football For Peace

He said it had shown "the power of football to unite communities".

During the visit he told Mr Grant, who is from Israel, about the trip.

He said: "It's fantastic. Very powerful. To see everyone playing together."

William was greeted by the charity's co-founder Kashif Siddiqi who brought him to take part in a workshop on equality, diversity and inclusion, alongside young people and Ozil.

Prince William was joined by footballers including Mesut Ozil. Credit: PA

Following his speech, William led the congratulations for the charity's newest peace leaders.

The teenagers, from London, Birmingham and Luton have completed the programme which sees local councils, football clubs and schools work with the charity to train young people in uniting their communities through football.

Their work includes running local football tournaments, organising classroom workshops and discussing issues that may be dividing their communities.

Mr Siddiqi told the graduates he believed football can save lives.

He said: "It saves lives from misunderstanding that causes division.

"It saves lives from hate, violence and conflict. It saves lives from being devastated by prejudice.

"It saves people from feeling isolated and that makes football really, really powerful."