April 2012


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Breaking Barriers through Sports

Bruce Van Voorhis

Two hundred people in India from the village of Mallikapodi in Orissa’s Kandhamal District that had witnessed violence between the Hindu and Christian communities in the district in 2007 and 2008 witnessed another incident between the two communities on April 30, 2012—an interfaith volleyball match. During the all-day match, six teams competed against each other with each team comprised of both Hindus and Christians.

Interfaith volleyball teams made up of both Christians and Hindus
compete in a series of matches in an Indian village in an area of
the country that had suffered from violence between the two
communities several years earlier.

The idea for the volleyball match grew out of an interfaith workshop held in the village in the previous month on March 12. Organized by Dillip Pattanaik, Alibha Pradhan and Chandra Kanta Naik, all of whom had participated in a workshop conducted by Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF) in the state capital of Bhubaneswar earlier in the year, the aim of both the workshop and volleyball match was to bring people of both faith communities in the village together. In the case of the volleyball match, the three organizers sought to use sports to break the barriers and overcome the misunderstanding between the two communities.