In the twenty first century and more specifically over the past decade the reach of sports has transcended the perceptual boundaries where sports was seen as just a game being played for competition or enjoyment. Today a game of soccer, rugby, cricket etc. is no longer just a competition between two teams. Today these games represent hope, the games represent pride and these games create an opportunity to achieve more than just a feat over your opposition.
The concept of Sport for Development became a trending phrase over the past decade as organisations rallied together in efforts to use sports for the pursuit of development. The United Nations recognised the value that sports has by deploying a special unit to achieve sporting objectives to assist in achieving their Millennial Development Goals stating that: “Sport and physical activity are rapidly gaining recognition as simple, low-cost, and effective means of achieving development goals. Over the past decade, agencies, international sport federations, international and national non-government organisations and national governments have been using sports as a tool for development and peace”
Most sport for development organisations in South Africa are based around the ethos of bringing social change by using sports as a tool to attract the youth. A good example of an organisation pushing development efforts using sports as a tool is Amandla Edufootball.
Amandla Edufootball is a NPO that was founded by Florian Zech based in South Africa and Germany and has been endorsed by the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace. The aim of all its activities is to tackle social inequality through the innovative fusion of education and football. Using the power of football, AMANDLA creates safe-hubs of development and learning for disadvantaged young people. The organisation’s holistic football-based programme model stimulates and encourages young people to strive for a better future. The strong moral concept underpinning all AMANDLA programmes reinforces universal values and norms, often lacking in destabilised and non-existent family structures.
Sport can provide opportunities for development by transforming individuals to gain new insights and awareness. This opportunity to seek out new and different experiences opens a vast array of self-exploration wherein individuals can reinvent, refocus, or renew themselves. In other words, this leisure experience that sports creates is the environment that provides a powerful medium to enable individuals to change or to be transformed. Sport allows individuals to be free to explore, to test, or to remake one’s self which lends itself to the process of transformation. Without the opportunity to pursue those experiences of interest that provide opportunities for self-discovery as well as the acquisition of new knowledge, skills, and attitudes, transformation is not possible.
The growing trend of Sports for Development organisations is an inspiring one that we hope can bring a brighter day for all South Africans.
Written by: Cleo Pokpas