Tag Archives: sport for development

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.

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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!

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!

 

 

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.

 

 

Move Your Body, Shape Your Dreams

Celebrating 6th April, the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace 2016 

Dream Up Festival, Kigali, Rwanda

Few days in advance, but with equal enthusiasm and spirit that is generated on April 6th worldwide, the One Stop Youth Center in Kimisagara hosted the Dream Up Festival to celebrate the power of sport to transform lives and communities. The one-day event was organized by UN-HABITAT in close cooperation with the Kimisagara OSYC team and was nothing but a success.

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Sport is a powerful mobilizer, so why not use it for something more than just having fun. Rwanda is a beautiful country with third of its population below 30. Unfortunately, about 38.5% of them are living below poverty line, struggling to secure their basic needs. They don’t have time to play sports, yet alone to dream about their big bright future.

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This is what inspired our team of Korean interns, Mina and HyunChul, to organize the Dream Up Festival to provide marginalized young people with an opportunity to forget about their hardships for a day and learn and enjoy themselves in a fun environment. Day filled with sports, cultural and educational activities brought together about 100 youth participants from different parts of Kigali. Throughout the day, the participants got to play various obstacle races and Korean games to spice up the sports activities and learn something new. While they’ve learned about sportsmanship and other sports values through games, the main educational component was encompassed in workshops about hygiene and sexual and reproductive rights as well as in essay writing contest.

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The essay writing was a unique opportunity for us to hear the voices we usually don’t have access to. So we took the chance of assembling these wonderful young people into one venue and asked them to write a short essay about one of these topics:

  • What is your role in making Kigali the Top city in Africa?
  • What is your dream of Kigali?
  • What can the city of Kigali do to avoid informal settlements and get on the path of modernization?

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The winners of each category were subsequently awarded with small prize and huge admiration from others. Finally, the additional dance and taekwondo performances made the day complete. UN-HABITATA would like to thank everyone involved for making it happen and for joining us in April 6th Celebrations!

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Peacebuilding through Sports: Engaging the youth of Somalia

Youth represent the most vibrant section of the society, they play a pivotal role in socio- economic changes and development of the society. 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 organized sport activities, lack of capacity and lack of sufficient support both nationally and internationally leave many to stay on the passive side. But it’s not all so gloomy as there are enough enthusiastic people in and out of Somalia 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 organized 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 the normality without any further effort would be foolish.

Sport can also serve as a fantastic tool for social and gender inclusion. Girls and women often do not have the same access to services and opportunities. Young people with physical or mental disabilities are also frequently excluded from everyday community life because of stereotypes and prejudices that accompany them. The social exclusion often felt by vulnerable communities can be challenged through sports as it offers a space, where everybody is welcomed to participate, regardless of their age, gender, or ability. It is an adaptable activity, where rules can be altered to community needs, especially if it is for having fun and attaining joy. Rules are created to give directions, not to prevent people from participation.

Re-building the country starts with the youth and sport can be a useful entry point for social change as it represents a great tool to mobilize, empower and engage young people to do just that. It brings people together, which is particularly important in a country like Somalia. It can teach them a thing or two about leadership, conflict resolution, fair-play and communication – transferable skills crucial for life outside the game as well.

While the country is on its way to recovery and reconstruction, the lack of safe and accessible sport infrastructure, qualified coaches, trained professionals with capacity to establish organized sport activities and sufficient equipment, remain a challenge. Through its Urban Sports Programme, UN-HABITAT is thus looking into possibilities to partner with the Government as well as local youth organizations and groups to tackle these issues and thus support urban and community development in Somalia.

 

What’s next for EAC & UN-HABITAT?

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With the finals played on Saturday, it is safe to say that the East Africa Cup 2015 has been a huge success. It was the first time UN-HABITAT has been present and we couldn’t have been more thrilled about the experience. Our Youth & Urbanization workshop was amazing, a creative space where excellent ideas and action plans were born. Tough topic to discuss, perhaps a little challenging too, but the young participants mastered it so well, making us super proud. Some of them stepped up the game even more, leaving their comfort zones and overcoming their own fears from public speaking in English when presenting their work and strategies. Well done!

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It wasn’t just our workshop that left us happy – the whole event was inspiring! Seeing hundreds of kids and young people playing and having fun while learning skills they wouldn’t pick up in formal education, was priceless. EAC is a testimony on how sport can help with capacity building, personal development and social change. It is fantastic mobilizing tool that can simultaneously teach a thing or two in a fun way. One week in Moshi definitely leaves a long lasting positive impact on the communities involved.

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For UN-HABITAT, EAC represents a great arena for youth & community development and we have identified three ways of how we can contribute to support this wonderful event and the amazing organizations behind it.

  1. Since most of the participants come from challenging urban settings, the need for our Youth & Urbanization workshop is rather obvious. Young people need to know they can play important role in finding solutions to some of the urban challenges and we should strive to empower them to do so. For next year, we will try to bring an additional facilitator to reach even more young people. We can also add other thematic workshops that could be useful for the young participants or organize a training of trainers to expand the pool of facilitators able to deliver the urban challenges workshop worldwide.
  2. EAC has been working with youth groups from Somalia for couple years now. There is a possibility to join our efforts on advancing our initiatives in Somalia, building on our individual experiences and expertise.
  3. UN-HABITAT has a great network of motivated and inspirational young people globally and can support EAC to expand to other corners of the world.

Being part of East Africa Cup 2015 has been extremely valuable for UN-HABITAT and for our new Urban Sports Programme. We take the experience, the knowledge and the spirit and try to build on it to advance our work with young people worldwide. We hope that this is just a beginning of a long-lasting partnership and we cannot wait to be involved next year again.

5 Takeaways from “Empowering Marginalized Youth through Sport” Discussion Forum (Youth Will Campaign)

 Youth Will

Last week, five expert panelists from five different countries dedicated their time and knowledge to answer questions related to youth and sport, collected over two days through an online platform Crowdhall. Forum organized as part of the global Youth Will campaign focused on the role of sport in development and peacebuilding. Diverse questions provided for interesting discussions among panelists and the audience. The following are the key takeaway points:

  • What to emphasize when speaking about sport for development

The bottom line is emphasizing sport as a way to empower young people to engage with development. When speaking to young people, we should emphasize the role of sport being a method to release stress and have fun while learning new skills and advancing personal growth. We should always distinguish between elite sport and sport for development initiatives, making it clear that SDP projects are not set to scout for new athletic talent, nor raise future sporting heroes.

  • Inclusion in sport

Sport has the power to connect people in profound ways. Just as it brings people together to play it can also bring them together to kick off conversations, dialogue and awareness-raising. Everyone has the same right to sport, thus inclusion of all regardless of their abilities or gender is a must. It is proven that inclusive programmes are beneficial for all participants as they can help and learn from each other. It promotes mutual understanding, bonds of friendship and lessons of perseverance.

  • Transferable skills youth can learn trough sport

Sport provides invaluable lessons that can apply outside the world of sport. Practice involves exercising body and mind alike. The two are undoubtedly interconnected and that makes sport a unique tool for personal development. In the hectic and highly demanding times of the 21st century, sport acts as an escape from daily hardships, a personal outlet and coping mechanism. Learning how to manage stress, be flexible and adaptable to unforeseen circumstances through play in fun and safe environment is priceless. Today’s labor market requires us to possess skills such as concentration, problem solving, creativity, time-management, networking, overcoming limits and entrepreneurship which are hard to acquire through traditional teaching methods but come almost naturally from practicing sports. On top of that, personal qualities of being respectful and a good team player are accentuated in sport and are highly regarded by employers as well.

  • Importance of space for sport activities

Space is a huge issue when it comes to sport. We have got so used to building specialized courts, pitches and gyms that we almost took the sport and play out of streets. There is no dispute about benefits of having dedicated space with appropriate facilities for practice; however, we should not neglect the benefits of using public spaces for sport as well. Being able to watch someone’s talent and capabilities, understand and accept how space can be used for multiple purposes and enable marginalized groups to have a space for self-expression and self-improvement must be recognized. The issue, however, can also be about lack of space all together such as is often the case in informal settlements. While it is certainly better to have a proper space, a court or a pitch, it is not essential to play. Sport is an adaptable activity that can be altered around the needs and availability. Lack of space should not stop us from exploring alternatives and promoting sport.

  • Power of global sports organizations and promotion of youth sports

International organizations such as FIFA, should collaborate with community organizations and use their name and resources for greater good. However, we must remain cautious with these global power machines that are often driven by profits and ensure that the promotion of sport goes beyond recruitment and training of future elite athletes and corporate gains. It should emphasize inclusion of all youth regardless of talent or gender and be promoted across all borders.

Panelists:

Dana Podmolikova, UN-HABITAT (Czech Republic)

Zachary Turk, Action/2015 (USA)

Nevena Vukasinovic, ENGSO Youth (Serbia)

Hassan Abdikadir, UN-HABITAT (Kenya)

Joanna Burigo, Guerreiras Project/ Gender Hub (Brazil)