By Amin Kef Sesay
In Africa, countries like Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco, Cameroun, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa have made their countries names to be known far and wide because of the successes their athletes and sports men and women have made over the years in different sporting disciplines.
With so much idleness seen among youth in this country, engaging them in sporting activities at all levels of the society would be an effective method of engaging them positively.
Sport is known to help youths develop a range of skills such as teamwork and discipline. It can also be used as a means to provide an interesting way to learn about violence and sexual abuse prevention or gender equality through physical activity or games.
As such, while traditionally, sports have been geared primarily to males, focus should also be put on empowering girls, teaching them new skills, enabling play, fostering their visibility and right to be active in public spaces.
For as long as we can remember, sports has always played an important role in every society. Aside from strengthening social ties, sportschannels the collective energy of the community and harnesses it towards nation-building.
As former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, once said: “Sports is a universal language”. At its best it can bring people together, no matter what their origin, background, religious beliefs or economic status.”
Engaging in sports is instrumental for youth empowerment through its numerous benefits.
First, it promotes good health and physical fitness as it encourages the youth to keep an active lifestyle.
Second, it provides an outlet for the youth to spend their free time and relieve boredom, keeping them away from destructive vices, crime and illegal drugs.
Lastly, it instills discipline, hard work and excellence, which prepares the youth to become successful and productive individuals in the future.
President Duterte understands the positive benefits of sports participation. During the opening of the 2018 Philippine National Games (PNG) last May 19 at the Cebu City Sports Center, he urged top sports officials, particularly the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), to promote and strengthen sports programs nationwide. In fact, he has doubled the prizes for the top five performing Local Government Units (LGU) in the National Games to further encourage the development of our athletes.
The country will also be hosting several events such as the Southeast Asian Games in 2019 and the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2023.
Youth Empowerment Through Sport (YES) is a dynamic programme that actively invests in youthd by empowering them to go into their communities and become ambassadors of sport and change makers.
In 2017 UNESCO launched the programme on Youth and Sport Task Force to enable young inspiring leaders through sport, as well as encourage social transformations in the members’ respective countries through sport, and thereby contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The programme places the youth at the forefront, determining agendas, priorities and directions as a collective. UNESCO supports the Task Force by providing opportunities for the members to promote and enhance their work by connecting with each other and with regional and global opportunities for growth and capacity building.
The programme has empowered many young individuals to promote their personal well-being as well as promote sport as a tool for positive social change in their communities.