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East Africa Cup and UEFA Champions League – a cutting edge focus on goals

Copyrights: East Africa Cup

East Africa Cup and UEFA Champions League – a cutting edge focus on goals

Ahead of the UEFA Champions League final this weekend we shift our focus to Tanzania, where the East Africa Cup is captivating the youth in their own version of the grand final, in addition to promoting the SDGs.

The UEFA Champions League Final is watched by millions around the world, and East African youth are especially excited this year. For many Kenyans, the success of Tottenham player Victor Wanyama at the top level is a source of pride. And for some, it’s personal.

That’s because Wanyama’s career was developed through the wonderful work done by Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), and his first international cup finals experience was at the East Africa Cup. Of course, there are some differences between the two events. The Champions League is slightly more famous, and certainly richer.

And the East African event is a youth event. This is because young people constitute the majority of the sub-Saharan African population, according to the UN, and yet they are excluded from formal power structures. So the East Africa Cup has the vision of inspiring youth to believe that they can make a difference. It links closely with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a blueprint to achieve this.

That means there is a focus on education. Before a ball is kicked at the East Africa Cup (EAC), all players attend classes in topics like First Aid, AIDS prevention, leadership, entrepreneurship, poverty challenges and conflict resolution. We think that both sport and education are good for young people. It’s hard to imagine the Liverpool or Spurs players sitting side by side in a class before the big game, but it’s the reality in Moshi, Tanzania, where the event is held each year.

We know that many young East Africans are likely to end up working in the informal sector, so there is a focus on making sure that training is relevant to them.

The organisations which send teams to the EAC are deeply rooted and involved in the development of their respective communities, throughout the year.

In Swahili we say – ujuzi (knowledge), umoja (solidarity) na upendo (and friendship)! The EAC has captured this approach in the slogan – “One week in Moshi, the whole year in the community!

Unlike the Champions League, the East Africa Cup aims for an equal gender balance amongst its participants. We’ve found that sport can improve the confidence of girls and young women, and can provide a safe space where they can get together. We also think it can challenge gender expectations and help girls and young women earn respect in their community.

Finally, the biggest trophy at the EAC doesn’t go to the team which wins the most matches; it goes to the most sporting team. As well as on-field behaviour, which is noted by the referees and their assistants, fair play can also mean off the field participation in cultural events, litter picking, and classroom activities.


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Svein Olsen and Nick Raistrick


Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 10:45