Football Heals: How Manipur's Youth Finds Solace Amidst Ethnic Conflict



Tragedy of caste violence in Manipur state

Since the first week of May, Manipur, a peaceful state in Northeast India, has been engulfed in a devastating wave of ethnic violence. Disagreements over the Scheduled Tribe status for the primary ethnic group, the Meitis, led to tensions, which had large-scale consequences for the entire state. Indigenous communities, including the Kuki community, started a rally that escalated into serious ethnic conflict.

Consequences of ethnic conflicts

An estimated 190 people died and more than 60,000 were displaced from their homes as a result of this unprecedented increase in violence. Properties were destroyed; Homes were ransacked, cars were set on fire and the daily life of citizens was disrupted. Manipur's economic infrastructure took a heavy toll as businesses ground to a halt, offices closed and the state's booming tourism industry dwindled. The long-running conflict has now entered its fifth month, threatening the state with a famine.

The plight of displaced minors

The most heartbreaking aspect of this crisis is the suffering of minors. Nearly 40% of the displaced population comprises children, who now find themselves imprisoned in relief camps. The grim reality of their circumstances and the trauma of ethnic conflicts raise real concerns regarding their mental and emotional well-being.

Football: A ray of hope amidst despair

In these difficult times, an unexpected group has emerged as a beacon of hope for these innocent souls – Ya.All's all-trans football team, a youth network advocating for LGBTQIA+ inclusion in Manipur and the wider North-East region. With its campaign, "Football to Heal, Football for Peace", the organization seeks to provide these traumatized children with moments of relief and happiness through football.

During the initial phase of the crisis, everyone dedicated their resources to distributing relief material in more than 100 camps spread across different areas of Manipur. However, it was during these visits that Ya.All's founder, Sadam Hanjabam, identified the severe trauma affecting children.

Yes, everyone's initiative: healing from football

Understanding the need for an alternative approach, Ya.All started free football training sessions for these children. Given the constraints, finding a camp with nearby football fields was a challenge, but the organization was tireless in its mission. The initiative, launched in early June, has reached out to more than 200 displaced students across four different locations.

Yaifabi Sanasam, one of the players, mentioned the deep satisfaction of seeing the joy and relief in the children's eyes. Football has become more than just a game; It turned into a therapeutic outlet for these young souls, giving them respite, even if fleeting, from their traumatic experiences.


The situation in Manipur is a stark reminder of the fragility of peace and the devastating effects of ethnic violence. However, in such difficult times, organizations like Ya.All represent the indomitable human spirit and the power of sports as a unifying force. In this context, football is not just a game; It is a tool for healing, peace and building bridges between adversities.


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