You are here

What can bring young people together while tearing down conflicts and myths?

2013_06_29_12_09_09.jpg

What can bring young people together while tearing down conflicts and myths?

At the annual East Africa Cup in Moshi, Tanzania it is not the result on the field that counts. 

"Are you coming to watch us play tomorrow? You have to come to the cultural night. Then it is our turn to be on stage."

It’s a group of 13 year old enthusiastic girls who are asking. With colourful national costumes the HODI-team from northern Kenya are easily noticed.

They have travelled for several days to participate in the five day long football tournament. For many of the girls this is their first time visiting another country even travelling outside their own region. When I ask them what they think about the East Africa Cup, the answer comes instantly.

"It is fun and you learn." 

Ten years of inspiration
What can bring young people together and tear down conflicts and myths? To Svein Olsen, founder of the East Africa Cup, the obvious answer is sport, more precisely football. He got the idea when he worked as a country director in Tanzania for Norwegian Peoples Aid.

This summer the cup celebrates its ten year anniversary with teams from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia and Tanzania. 1200 participants aged 10-16 years old are gathered in the small town Moshi at the foot of Kilimanjaro. 

"The teams participating on the East Africa Cup are chosen because they use football and sports to develop the communities where they live. They come here not only to play football. Our goal is to inspire them to work for their community and boost them while they are here. That is the true purpose of this tournament,"
says Olsen.

One week in Moshi
Each day starts with different seminars where awareness and education are on the agenda. You learn about dialogue between people from different religions, to see all of the abilities for people with disabilities and how to keep children safe from abuse, just to mention a few. Many of the youth leaders participate in referee education, community coaching and media practice. It is all about giving you skills that you can use back home, summed up in the slogan: "One week in Moshi, the whole year in the community".

The highlight for many is the cultural night each evening. Then the different countries are challenged to use music, dance and drama to show the variety of culture from their hometown and countries.

East Africa has a sad history of violence and distrust. For a Tanzanian to get a friend from Kenya and Uganda, and discover that they are just the same as you are, is not very common. To get to know your neighbouring countries is something this region really needs.

God bless Africa
The very same day the teams arrive in Moshi you can feel a sense of chaos in the cup area. Two teams from Kenya are suddenly unable to attend, but it turns out a team from northern Kenya suddenly is arriving after all. There is no information about one of the teams from Rwanda; are they coming or not?

The logistics will work out in the end.

The toilets in Moshi Technical School, where 600 boys will stay, are a bigger problem. The company renovating the toilet are far behind schedule, but promise that they will work something out within the next few hours.

The evening comes and finally everything is about to start. The brass band from Moshi police force is playing each countries national anthem, a moment of pride for the participants. One cannot help noticing the excitement reaching a top level when it is time for Tanzania. Children standing up in their plastic chairs singing from their heart: God bless Africa. God bless Tanzania. God bless the children. The future.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]

About

Article type

News

Author

Anne Mone Nordahl

Published

Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 23:00