Peacebuilding through sports: Engaging the youth of Somalia
. A nation can only progress when the energy of the youth is channelled towards constructive work. Young people in Somalia love sports, they love to watch sports and more so, they love to play sports.
However, they have very few opportunities to do so – poor sports infrastructure, lack of sports facilities, limited organised sport activities, lack of capacity and lack of sufficient support both nationally and internationally leave many on the side-lines. But it’s not all so gloomy as there are enough enthusiastic people within and outside of Somalia who are willing to work hard to change this.
With the help of international partners, young men and women across Somalia strive to create their own sport activities as well as participate in available sports training programmes focused on peer education, first aid and sports injuries, refereeing and coaching. As Said Warsame from Puntland, one of the participants of training organised by Norwegian Peoples Aid Somalia, Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development (GECPD Somalia) and CHRISC Kenya said:
“I have been to different workshops where topics such as HIV and AIDS were taught but this is the first time I have learnt new methods whereby I can use fun and games to pass different information, instead of relying on workshops and seminars. This seems effective since it encourages participation and involvement. With this new knowledge I plan to use it to educate my fellow youth and at the same time have fun through sports”.
It was in 2005 when the value of sport was identified as an essential peacebuilding mechanism by the international development community. In post conflict countries, peace and stability are fragile but sport can undoubtedly help in peacebuilding and development initiatives when used wisely and strategically, but we cannot expect it to do the magic without guidance, as sport is by nature a contest. Expecting sport to restore normality without any further effort would be foolish.
This is a shortened version of a longer article.
[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]