Category Archives: Sports

Celebrating Somali Youth Day: Teenage soccer player Jibril Kafi Ahmed has his eyes on the prize despite challenges facing Somalia

Our second featured interview to celebrate the Somali Youth Day is with a football enthusiast Ahmed. He too, is a member of Mogadishu One Stop Youth Center, who values the space as a place to to play, learn and grow. UN-Habitat recognizes the importance of public spaces to practice sports and interact with peers and this is why:

Sixteen-year-old Jibril Kafi Ahmed is a budding soccer player, who is already making a mark in his country Somalia, despite the instability caused by years of war.

Growing up in his neighborhood, in the capital’s Yaqshid district, Ahmed was denied the opportunity for normal upbringing, as he was confined indoors, due to insecurity caused by terror group Al-Shabaab.

Sounds of gunfire and explosions were a common feature of his childhood; while the sound of a bouncing football that he so much craved was just a mirage.

The challenges of growing up in a violent environment did not dim his desire to be a soccer player. As he grew older and as the security situation in Somalia improved, he started playing soccer.

Now a member of the ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’, which engages youth in sports, Ahmed finds himself in an enviable position, to advance his dreams.

The high school student, who cuts a lanky figure, says being a member of a sports team such as the ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’ comes with many benefits. And so does sports, which he adds, promotes a healthy lifestyle, and is a great platform for promoting peace and unity in society.

The shy youth, who would have been lured into crime, had he not joined the Centre, is a testimony that positive living produces great dividends.

“I appeal to the youth who are with Al-Shabaab or other militant groups to quit and join the government forces”, Ahmed says, in his message to youth who have joined criminal gangs such as terror group Al Shabaab.

“I plead with them to stop harming people because the country needs them. I also plead with them to stop fighting, as it does not add value to their lives”, he says.

Since joining the ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’, Ahmed’s his life has changed for the better.

“I look forward to playing for one of the top clubs in Europe”, he concludes during an interview.

The young man is unfazed by the instability in his country and has hopes to excel as an athlete and join the hall of fame, like Somalia born Olympian gold medalist Mo Farrah.

The ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’ is an initiative led by UN-Habitat with the Banaadir Regional Administration (BRA) as part of the Youth Employment Somalia programme.

Celebrating Somali Youth Day: Youthful Najmo Sa’eed Mire’s hope for peaceful co-existence in Somalia lies in sports

To celebrate the Somali Youth Day (15th May), UN-Habitat would like to highlight interviews with two young Somalis – beneficiaries of the Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre, an initiative between the Banaadir Regional Administration (BRA) and UN-Habitat, which equips youth with vocational skills.

Najmo Sa’eed Mire strongly believes sport is the pathway to nurturing engaged youth and extols the immense power of sport in promoting peace and erasing clan differences, which continue to bedevil Somalia.

“Sports will help unite the people and once there is unity you have peace,” said Najmo, a twenty-one year old resident of Warta-nabada district in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

“Sports has a positive impact and both men and women can take part. It knows no borders,” she observed.

Najmo also noted that sports is capable of enhancing unity and discouraging youth from joining violent extremist organizations, blamed for the country’s security challenges.

Her great love for sports, illustrated in her participation in a cheering squad, during a football match at the Mogadishu One Stop Centre, explains her deep conviction in the positive attributes of sports.

With relative peace in the capital city, many youth are able to engage in various sporting activities. At the height of the biting drought, the youth have gone a step further and pulled resources to help communities affected by drought.

“As students we did our best to contribute to drought victims with the support of our teachers. In our neighborhoods, we collected money and other items for drought victims living in Garasbaley area and Yaqshid district. This was possible because sports brought us together and unified us,” Najmo explained.

While raising a white card to peace in Somalia, she appealed to the youth to take sports and education seriously and stay away from crime.

“I urge my fellow youths to reject crime and other unlawful activities and choose sports instead to help promote peace, love and unity. Together we shall succeed,” she says.

Najmo looks forward to the day when armed militia who kill and maim with reckless abandon, will dispose of their weapons and join peace-loving Somalis, in promoting peace through sports and other social activities.

“Youths do love sports. If the youth can agree on the type of sport they want to play, they can as well agree to unite and promote peace, which is good for the nation,” Najmo adds.

Football Pitch Make-over through Design Thinking

A lot was happening in Mlango Kubwa’s football pitch last week. Mlango Kubwa is a ward in the Mathare informal settlement in Kenya. Mathare has approximately 500,000 residence; Mango Kubwa itself has approximately 50,000 residents of which 70% of the population is 24 and under.

After its inauguration by the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, it became the centerpiece of Design Thinking workshop organized to give it a sustainable make-over.

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The football pitch is the cornerstone of the community, strategically placed and accessible for all Mlango Kubwa’s residents. Used primary for football, sport and play, at times it’s also a place for talent shows, celebrations and other community events. But time, weather conditions and lack of resources have left a toll on its appearance and condition. What was once an astonishing sport facility in the midst of a slum is now rapidly deteriorating public space.

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To try to help out and bring new ideas and perspectives on the issue, UN-HABITAT teamed up with GIZ Sport for Development Africa programme and Prof. Dr. Falk Uebernickel from University of St. Gallen, an expert in Design Thinking methodology, to run a 2-day workshop with the community. Ran as a pilot in a difficult context of poor urban community, the hope and expectation was to come up with new strategies to revitalize and sustainably maintain the field.

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Despite slow start, the community members attending the workshop came up with some amazing ideas of how to improve the current state of the pitch.  Through rather complex and at times quite challenging steps of the Design Thinking methodology, the community looked at the most pressing issues, including safety and security, drainage, waste management and communication. Here are just few examples of simple interventions that were born that day:

  • Adequate fence around the pitch perimeter, with some kind of roofing to protect from rains
  • Paid caretaker(s)
  • Build-in drainage
  • Regular clean-ups, with competitions between school
  • WhatsApp group to inform the community of events and happenings at/around the pitch

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Funding remains a challenge and will determine the successful implementation of all the ideas that the community envisioned for the football pitch but everyone remains hopeful that over time, they will achieve everything what they set themselves for. UN-HABITAT will continue to support the Mlango Kubwa community and hope that together we can make it happen.

Launching #UrbanAction in Quito

In October 2016, the world leaders and representatives of the member states will gather in Quito, Ecuador to adopt the New Urban Agenda, a brand new road map to deal with all urban issues and a guide to achieving SDGs particularly in the urban context. For the first time in history, young people were recognized as stakeholders in the drafting process and are frequently referred to throughout the document. That is why UN-HABITAT wants young people to be placed in the front line of the action that will follow. Acknowledging young people’s enormous potential and capacity, UN-HABITAT works with top global youth networks to ensure that Quito marks the beginning of the youth “#UrbanAction”.

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What is #Urban Action?

#UrbanAction is a global campaign calling on young people to actively engage in positive urban development. Youth groups, organizations and individuals alike will be encouraged to design and develop #UrbanAction projects in their city that build on the commitments outlined in the New Urban Agenda, and positively contribute to achieving one (or more) of the SDGs. We aim to implement over 150 youth projects related to New Urban Agenda and SDGs within the first year of NUA adoption.

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Why Youth?

Youth represent an essential and dynamic resource. Globally, 85% of the world’s young people live in developing countries and ever-increasing number of them is growing up in cities. We have the largest youth population ever – 1.8 billion young people are below 24 years of age. This is not a small number and as such, youth should be brought on-board as partners and assets.

Youth participation and engagement is the cornerstone of the #UrbanAction, empowering them to increase their level of engagement in local governance and activate their participation in sustainable urban development activities socially, politically and economically. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces. The success lies in participatory and inclusive approaches that leave no-one behind.

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While Quito will mark the launch of the #Urban Action, with first few project ideas implemented, the real work comes after Habitat III is over. Coordinated through the AIESEC international network and other partners, youth all over the world will commit and implement their #UrbanAction projects in their cities, in line with the New Urban Agenda and one (or more) of the SDGs. Join #UrbanAction today!

Connecting the dots in Sport

On Friday 16th September 2016, UN-HABITAT had a pleasure to attend the 2nd World Summit on Ethics & Leadership in Sports at FIFA Headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. It was a day packed with incredible sessions, high-level speakers from the world of sport, business and politics, and most importantly, energy and positive spirit that has transcended to all participants and guests.

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Sport illustrates how various stakeholders are directly impacted by the corporate culture (strategy, team spirit), the individual performance (skills and behavior) and the wider corporate context (leadership, legal framework, CSR, media) to reach the organizations business goal (to win the game). The Summit explored these links and role of sport in tackling societal problems, while celebrating already existing best practices of sport for development initiatives and ethical sportsmanship.

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Over 50 experts shared their know-how and experiences to enrich participants’ knowledge and proposed a substantial agenda for action. One of the featured speakers was also Mr. Wilfried Lemke, the UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor on Sport for Development and Peace. Mr. Lemke received the Ethics in Sports Awards in the category “Outstanding Individual” for his contributions in promoting the use of sports as a unifying tool for peace across the world, especially in conflict-ridden zones and war-torn countries. It is truly sad news to hear that Mr. Lemke’s term if close to finish and he will be leaving his position as the UN SG’s Special Advisor at the end of the year.

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While one day was way too short to take it all in and establish proper action plan or connections, UN-HABITAT is extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to be there and discuss with these experts possibilities of collaboration, especially in relation to New Urban Agenda and legacies of mega sport events and SDGs, particularly Goal 11. It is our hope and dream that these will soon translate into concrete action and long-term partnerships. For now, have a look at the plan….

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Using Sport as Vehicle to 2030

On Friday August 12th, UN-HABITAT in collaboration with Nexus Brasil hosted a high-level event to discuss the power of sport to drive social change, especially in regards to youth and SDGs. It was a very successful evening, full of inspiring guests and touching stories that left no-one behind (in the spirit of the UN!). We were not only celebrating the beautiful Olympic Games but also the International Youth Day that falls on August 12th as young people are the cornerstones in this agenda.

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Mr. Stephan Fox, the former Muaythai world champions and the current president of AIMS (Alliance of Independent Recognized Members of Sport, representing 23 international federations), vice-president of SportAccord and General Secretary of IFMA (International Federation of Muaythai Amateur) opened the event with his power story of how he works with Muaythai, Thailand’s national treasure, on number of socially responsible initiatives. Using the core values of Muaythai, they work with underprivileged kids to develop their self-confidence, respect and honor and help them grow into their full potential.

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“Respect is key when training in muaythai. You should respect and honor your teacher, opponents, training partners and community. This message we translate to the everyday life” (Mr. Stephan Fox)

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The first Roundtable looked at sport as a tool for peacebuilding, conflict resolution and countering violence. Three very special guests, Mr. Duran Farah (Head of Somali NOC), Mr. Hossam Hassan Gadou (lecturer at Behna university, Egypt) and Rafael F. Luciano (Founder of Artists 2 Advocates) shared their experiences from three very different contexts and angles. The case of Somalia is very unique. It is a country at war for past 25 years and counting, where illiteracy is higher than 62%, where children and young people and especially women have very little opportunities to socialize or to play sports as it is not high enough on political agenda. Yet history has proven that sport is the connector between conflicting groups and is the only thing that is universally liked and appreciated throughout the country.

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“We don’t have enough spaces for young people to play. Especially for young women that need adequate and safe space it is a challenge. Sport is the only thing that remained, the only institution that has not failed, yet there is no money and no support to develop more spaces for young people to practice. We need to work with international partners to rebuild our cities that will provide for everybody, especially for our youth that makes up 75% of our population. That includes building a sufficient sports infrastructure”. (Mr. Duran Farah)

Rafael works closely with one of America’s top Olympian, Ms. Sanya Richards Ross on addressing the rising issue of violence in the US. They are also huge supporters of Team Refugees. Artist 2 Advocates are using media to connect the right influencers with the right cause.

The second Roundtable examine the positive and negative sides of hosting these mega sport events. Since Sydney Olympics in 2000, it is mandatory for bidding cities to include the element of sustainability and make it part of their application package. Often they make fantastic plans of how the infrastructure will be build and renewed, how it’d going to generate more business for local small-entrepreneurs and how the newly built sporting complexes will serve the children and youth from the neighborhood to come and play. The reality, however, is often very different. And nowhere is it more visible than Rio. Carolina Caffe was looking at this element already in the run up to the Games. She shot this powerful documentary to bring the truth to the light.

While this is truly heartbreaking, we need to realize all the positive things mega sports are bringing with them. Like a magic, the city turns into multicultural party where everyone is welcome. Friendships and bonds made during the Games often last for decades. It does bring some tourists in (maybe not as many as predicted) which they happily buy snack or soda from a corner stall.

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“There are many positive and negative effects of hosting a sport mega event. We have to make sure to minimize the negative and maximize the positive. There are success stories from the past of cities benefited and transformed to thriving hubs yet we need to be more strategic to achieve that” (Mr. Hossam Hassan Gadou)

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The last roundtable was all about the local experiences. Michelle from Instituto Reacao came and showed us the incredible story of Rafaela Silva, who not only raised through their Judo programme, she actually won the gold medal in Judo. Flavio Canto, former Brazilian judo professional, and the founder of Instituto Reacao was her role model who won his bronze medal in Athens. Rafaela stood on the winners’ podium to receive her gold just last week. Mr. Zaremba, a professor at one of Rio’s top universities, psychologists and most importantly, well-known social entrepreneur paid us visit too. His team works with only young ladies and trains them in basketball. The last panelist, Mr. Gabriel Mayr works for URECE, a social enterprise working with blind people in football.

“The challenge on the ground is money. We have enough manpower, all volunteers, we have wonderful programmes but not enough money to pay for it. We struggle to operate, year by year, which makes it difficult for us, but for the young people that actually love and enjoy our programmes” (Mr. Gabriel Mayr)

The event was a first step to start a network of people working on different levels in sport, philanthropy and social entrepreneurship to find new ways of how to use the knowledge and experience to build upon these and contribute to achieving SDGs, especially Goal 11. We need to build more spaces for young people to play that will be accessible, affordable and safe and make sure that the positive impact of hosting mega sport events on cities outweighs the negative. Let’s work together to make it happen!

 

 

East Africa Cup 2016 – One week in Moshi, the whole year in community

For the second time, UN-HABITAT joined the wider Sport for Development (SPD) community to lend a helping hand at East Africa Cup in Moshi, Tanzania. Despite the budget cuts, which allowed “only” about 1000 children and youth from the region to participate (as opposed to standard 2000+), the event was buzzing with laughter, joy and motivation to create new friendships and learn from each other. The inspiration and energy drawn from “One week in Moshi” often sparks the motivation and enthusiasm to carry the positive messages and action for “the whole year in the community”.

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UN-HABITAT jumps in to deliver one of the morning educational sessions, naturally on Youth & Urbanization. This year, the focus was mainly on Urban – Rural Linkages and Active Citizenship. 53 young men from various marginalized communities in Tanzania and Kenya participated in the three-day workshop, discussing the “push” and “pull” factors for human migration between villages and cities and the urban challenges in towns. Using play and cooperative games to spice up the knowledge-sharing, and the theme of football to keep it interesting, the boys came up with some very interesting findings.

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Somewhat surprising was the gender-element brought to surface. Hardly-ever do we hear from boys, especially as young as 12 year olds, to include “escape from early-marriage” as a reason for many girls to leave the villages. Furthermore, when outlining the contemporary urban challenges in their communities, they mentioned “girls being forced to prostitution” and “rape” among others. It is hard to say whether this gender-sensitivity comes from experience or education but in any way, it is important and really great that boys are starting to speak up for girls.

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Now when EAC 2016 is over, we can start building on the newly gained knowledge, draw lessons and develop further our current and new partnerships to make the next edition even more extraordinary!

 

Being an Intern in Rwanda – Story by Mina Lee

I was excited to come to Rwanda for my internship in ‘sports for development’ field with UN-HABITAT. Although I have lived in Rwanda for two years before, (volunteering with Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA)), I couldn’t wait to be back. Rwanda is a fascinating place with so much beauty, green spaces and amazing people that I knew that my new adventure will be worthwhile. But funny enough, when I came to Kimisagara One Stop Youth Center in Kigali for the first time, I couldn’t conceal my surprise. So much space, gym with roof and even floodlights for night games! I thought I knew Rwanda, but this has proven me wrong! I have never seen such excellent sports facilities anywhere else.

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The center itself is a wonderful oasis of hope for young people in Kigali. More than 1000 of them visit the center every day, enjoying various services provided. It’s run by unpaid volunteers who organize training sessions, workshops, events and activities related to IT, good governance, health and entrepreneurship. Sport is naturally extremely important and the state-of-art facilities offer space to practice football, basketball, handball, inline skating and modern dance. Personally, I was very impressed with the “disability football team”. In Rwanda, there is a huge number of people with disabilities, the sad legacy of 1994 events. The disability team in Kimisagara is just so inspiring! They play on crutches and you wouldn’t believe how fast they can be!

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During my five months stay I have learned a lot about partnerships. The Center was initiated by the UN-HABITAT but is now 100% managed by the Ministry of Youth and ICT. Yet their ongoing collaboration and mutual support makes it work and thrive like no other. The Kimisagara center serves as a model to other youth centers across East Africa. On a different level, Cho and I (both UN-HABITAT interns in Rwanda) formed a partnership to complete tasks given by the Center as well as UN-HABITAT. There were many challenges, many unforeseen changes to plans and many unpredictable communication hiccups but we’ve managed.  It would be very difficult for me to do it on my own but together, we’ve learned to adapt. This, I consider a very useful skill for the future.

I’ve had a lot of plans at the beginning but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make them all work. I wish I had more time to develop new sports programme to involve wider community, create a project tackling the youth unemployment, which is a huge problem over there and perhaps find ways to bring even more young people into the Center. Maybe next time. For now, I am happy and grateful for the experience. I have learned a lot and had wonderful time in Rwanda, the beautiful country on the rise to prosperity.

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THE FIRST EVER SPORTS DAY IN KARIOBANGI, Powered By UN-HABITAT

Written by Emily Onyango on behalf of our partners

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The beginning of April meant a lot to different communities in Kariobangi who gathered as early as 7:00am to prepare for the sports day organized by UN-HABITAT in cooperation with CHRISC Kenya, Simama Africa, SWAGA and SOPA. One of the main objectives of the day was to recognize and reward all committed teams, groups and individuals who dedicated their time to promote community development and Sustainable Development Goals through sports.

And as one of the testimonies suggests, the anticipation for the day was overwhelming. “This is one of the biggest day that I have been waiting for. I brought my team of football players to participate in the Community Sport Day activities. The different types of games, like rope skipping, dodge ball or tag of war are perfect for them to learn something new, something different” said Steven Oduor, one of the youth leaders from Kariobangi.

The event, organized as a celebration of April 6th, the International Day of Sports for Development, was coordinated by UN-HABITAT’s interns, Yunhee and Suheon, who also spent 4 months prior to the event teaching young people in slums different sports, hygiene and biomechanics lessons to improve their health and well-being.

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“I have been attending Saturday classes about hygiene and biomechanics. It was extremely interesting as I’ve learned a lot of new things. I know now the structure of my body, different types of bones I have, how much water I should be drinking on a daily basis and also different exercises that will help me to stay fit”, said Carole Jones from Tarumbeta dancers.

Over 200 children and young people attended the celebration. They played, they sang, they danced all day and were rewarded with different gifts at the end of the day. Some got books, some pens and some caps, most importantly, no one went home empty-handed.

The event was a success. Everyone involved on either side, participants and organizers alike, were very happy with the result and are hoping to organize a similar event next year again. Once again, we could have witnessed how sport is a powerful tool for community transformation and peaceful coexistence among different communities.

 

 

Celebrating April 6th in Kariobangi, Kenya

Community Sports Day – Empowering Youth Through Sports

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Just a few days prior to a very significant day for all sports for development enthusiasts, April 6th, UN-HABITAT, in close collaboration with CHRISC Kenya, Simama Africa, Sports With A Goal Africa and Seeds of Peace Africa, staged a Community Sports Day at Marura Primary School in one of Nairobi’s infamous informal settlements – Kariobangi. Around 200 young people from different communities gathered to celebrate the International Day of Sport for Development while having fun, playing sports and working on strengthening social cohesion among the various groups.

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Using various team-sports and games was our strategy to instill some core values, such as fair-play, ethics, tolerance and compassion. But what was truly fantastic was to watch young people playing together not only for the sense of achievement and victory, but for something bigger than that, the Sustainable Development Goals. We took the opportunity to introduce and promote the recently adopted SDGs, in particular SDG 3 (Good Health), 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 6 (Clean Water), 11 (Sustainable Cities) and 16 (Peace and Justice).

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In the spirit of SDG 17 (Partnerships) we placed extra emphasis on the collaboration and partnerships not only of the organizers, but the community leaders and the youngsters themselves. It never stops amazing us, how much further we get when we join forces with others. As a huge international organization, we do need partners on the ground to help us execute our vision and plans and for April 6th celebrations, we found the perfect ones.

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Our work didn’t stop on April 6th. In fact, it was just the beginning. Youth leaders from participating communities underwent extensive training prior to the event to gain additional skills to use when working with young people on daily basis. They were partners in organizing the event from the beginning and they were instrumental in running the show on the day.

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As we see it, the day was a huge success and we can’t wait for our next opportunity to work with these wonderful organizations and young people. Despite their daily challenges and hardships, they are inspiring bunch with so much to say and do for a greater good of their communities and country. We’d be privileged and happy to be part of their journey of social transformation and community development.