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Stakeholder engagement to promote sport for development
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The world needs to realise that sport is not just reserved for the talented, nor is it just a recreational and fun activity - it is an essential tool which can be harnessed for peace education.

For the first 12 years of my schooling (3 in kindergarten, 7 in primary school and 2 in lower secondary), I was not considered a footballer. It was in my last two years of lower secondary that I started engaging with football. In less than a year, I was good enough to be on the school team, and by the end of secondary school, I was a renowned footballer in my school and within my local community. Had I started earlier, perhaps at 8 years (primary level 3), I would have been an even better footballer. But my chance at sport was delayed because at the primary level, teachers gave a chance to only those they perceived to have sporting talent, which they based on the appearance of a student.

For a long time, sport has only been seen as a recreational tool, but not one that can have an impact in development and peace education. In my four years of peace education, I have come to realize that nothing impacts peace values onto a young person as well as sports. It is one tool that plays a great role in character formation. Values of tolerance, respect, seeking justice (non-violence), forgiveness, team work, compassion and dialogue are all embedded in the acts of exercising sportsmanship. These are the values that society needs in order to coexist peacefully. Such values are better adapted and formed during one’s early stages of life, thus building a culture of peace.

It is unfortunate that most stakeholders involved in policy and development planning do not know this or take it for granted. No wonder, like I stated earlier, it took me more than 10 years, to realize I’m a sportsman. Had there been a deliberate move by stakeholders of leaving no one behind and giving everyone an equal opportunity to engage in sports, my sporting talent would have been identified much earlier. Now, when this opportunity is given to as many young people as possible, it means they are being embedded in the values of peaceful living, shaping the future in terms of peace and development.

This means that there is need for stakeholder engagement to understand the value of sports on peace and development. Sports education, which emphasizes its role in peace and development, should be included in different curricula at higher institutional levels, especially targeting disciplines that train those who do community work like teachers and clergy, and policies formulated to be followed by community leaders like politicians and government administrators, whose work is in line with governing institutions or engaging young people.

In 2006 general elections in Uganda, John from the ruling party, who considered himself the best choice for the party because he had done a lot for the party and community, lost the party primaries to the little-known Speech. In anger, John crossed party lines and became a candidate with the opposition party. During the elections, John tussled it out with Speech, and Speech won. As peace educators, we believe that had John been a sportsman, he would have understood the importance of controlling anger and losing gracefully, as in any competition there is a winner and a loser.

Let this be a wakeup call for all to consider giving everyone, especially young ones, a chance to participate in sport without bias. Not only would this be good for the youth, but the country and the world as well.

______________________________________________________________________________

Edgar Buryahika is the Director of Youth for Peace and Development Uganda (YOPEDU) based in Mbarara City, Uganda. YOPEDU is a peacebuilding non-profit organization that aims to build a culture of peace among youth and children for sustainable peace and development. You can contact Edgar at [email protected].

[This article has been edited by the sportanddev Operating Team.]

Tags

Country
Uganda
Region
Africa
Sport
Does not apply
Sustainable Development Goals
16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions.
4 – Quality education
Target Group
Youth

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