NPA Engages Youth on Sports for Peace Building
Over fifty South Sudanese youth under-16 are slated to participate in the East African Cup (EAC) this week under the arrangements of Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).
However, the participation of the young boys and girls is not merely for sports but is also aimed at forging a spirit of peace and unity among them.
The players, both girls and boys, have been picked from three States; Central Equatoria, Lakes and Western Equatoria, and come from different ethnic groups. They will participate in football and volleyball, Boboya James, NPA Program Coordinator told Gurtong. They will also take part in a one day seminar on HIV/AIDS awareness.
The EAC each year gathers youth under the age of 16 from ten African countries and from Norway, in Moshi Town, Tanzania. The countries participating are; Burundi, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and 50 organizations take part.
James said that the EAC is held under the slogan “one week in Moshi, the whole year in the community” and is not only for sports competition for youth, but also aspires to be an inspiration and a catalyst for the role of youth as agents for change in their respective home communities.
He said “the main aim of NPA organizing the event is because it believes that the youth in South Sudan need to be organized, united and participate in peace building”.
He said that the arrangements also aim at exposing the young boys and girls, enabling them to learn developmental ideas in life. It is hoped that the youth will learn lessons related to the objectives of NPA, through taking responsibility for ensuring they participate in the EAC.
“Once they go internationally, when they see things outside there they will think: ‘yes we need to organize things like that’, because if you don’t expose the youth some of them will think life is worthless,” James said.
“It is necessary for us to participate in developmental issues like sports that could improve the situation of South Sudan. We expect them to become like change agents once they come home. People know South Sudan outside there of conflict issues but when they see the team participating producing results it is pride of South Sudan,” Boboya added.
Abbas Mayek Mayen of the Lakes State Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, accompanying the participants to the EAC, commented that the participation of the South Sudan youth in the EAC will contribute to inculcating new ideas that will make them minimize thoughts on tribalism.
Cecilia Yomjima is 17 years old. Born in Mvolo county of Western Equatoria State, she had never before left her home state. Now, football is exposing her to another life she likes and is happy to learn about.
“I am very happy because it is the first time I am going outside South Sudan to participate on football in Tanzania. It is also the first time I am seeing Juba,” she said. Cecilia said she hopes to learn a lot from not only her country friends but also new friends she will meet in Tanzania.
16 year-old Santino Sawahit is from Rumbek, Lakes State. He is a footballer and among the participants going to participate in the EAC. Like Cecilia, he had never left his homeland, prior to his participation in the NPA EAC scheme. Even as a young footballer, Santino said, he could only visit Yirol, Wau or Raja towns close to his ancestral clan.
“I am happy because it is football that is taking me to Tanzania. I have not gone outside South Sudan for football,” Santino said. “I hope to learn a number of things which I think I will come and benefit with my fellows in South Sudan,” he said.