In a country that has suffered decades of conflict, football can play an important part in providing welcome recreation and restoring confidence. In the Central African Republic, according to Elie-Delphin Feidangamo, head of the national football federation:
On aime le football! (We love football!)
The CAR has a strong reputation for football, with Mr Feidangamo’s federation winning Central African regional titles in 2009 and 2012. But since armed conflict broke out there in 2012, the beautiful game has turned ugly. The federation’s offices were looted and all their equipment were stolen. More worryingly, football enthusiasts playing near the association were coming across unexploded hand grenades on several occasions. Mr Feidangamo explains:
Explosive contamination is not uncommon here in the capital, Bangui. We are concerned that there may be more hidden in the rubbish heaps that have built up around our office in recent years. But we are very happy to know that if we do find any, the HALO team is only a phone call away.
In early 2015, the HALO CAR team received information of explosive contamination in the area surrounding the Central African Football Federation. Two grenades were subsequently removed from the area, enabling the football enthusiast to gather and enjoy the game and local farmer to grow bananas near the improvised football pitch!
HALO operations officer Yacouba Kone talks to David Demagoza on land where HALO removed two grenades