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DRCongo: Football keeps youth away from guns

In Virunga National Park, several youngsters are kicking a ball around in the hope of becoming professional footballers, rather than ending up in one of the militias that have been bloodying the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for decades. Some 50 boys aged 10 to 16 were selected to join the newly opened football school in the park, a natural gem famous for its mountain gorillas and volcanoes but plagued by armed groups. The stadium was built in Rumangabo, a village in North Kivu that is home to the park's headquarters and a military base. The region is close to the battle zone with the rebels of the "March 23 Movement" (M23), an old insurgency that regained strength late last year with the support of neighbouring Rwanda, according to the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Here, young people, born into chaos and violence, without hope or plans, are easily recruited by armed groups or poachers.