What you need to know:
- Peace and anti-FGM crusaders in Marsabit have begun harnessing the power of sports in their humanitarian, development and peace-building efforts.
- Mwado official Abraham Dalle said they settled on sports because it is one of the world’s most popular leisure activities and a phenomenon that brings people of all walks of life together.
Peace and anti-female genital mutilation (FGM) crusaders in Marsabit have begun harnessing the power of sports in their humanitarian, development and peace-building efforts.
Marsabit Women Advocacy and Development Organisation (Mwado) Communication Officer Abraham Dalle, says sport is a promising channel that can be used for social transformation and peace-building.
He spoke during a tournament at Dakabaricha Secondary School sports ground recently. The event supported by Unicef and Anti-FGM Board, brought together the finalists Don Bosco and Samba soccer teams.
“We’ve resorted to using sports to sensitise and bring young people in this county on board in the fight against FGM and preach peace that has been elusive for decades,” Mr Dalle said.
The football tournament was a culmination of 28 matches played by 12 teams made up of only teenagers. The twelve soccer clubs included Don Bosco, Chester, Samba, Fabisch, Sparks, Soyama, Legends, Golden, Dakabaricha, Tsunami, Sharks and Town FC.
Mr Dalle said they settled on sports because it is one of the world’s most popular leisure activities and a phenomenon that brings people of all walks of life together.
“Sports is described as a language that everyone in the world can understand and is also very effective in bringing people together. It also has the capacity and power to attract large audiences and can play a major role in communicating positive awareness messages on key issues in driving social change,” he explained regarding the soccer matches that began across the country two months ago.
“In a county that is sharply divided by ethnic alienations and notorious for FGM, sports can bridge divides, foster youth and promotes education and development agendas. We urge key stakeholders to promote, use and invest in sports for youth development in the county,” he said.
Samba Soccer team coach Siba Woche, recalled the iconic example of ping-pong diplomacy between China and US in the early 1970s where sports was used to reconcile the two countries.
He said sports is a diplomacy tool for soft power with effective capabilities of disarming one's opponents.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Marsabit Sports and Youths Officer Elijah Karanja.
He said they are targeting more young people, especially in the ethnic conflicts and FGM prone zones to participate in sports, not just to bring home medals — but to bring peace and campaign against FGM.
In Marsabit, sports is a lever for integration or social integration especially in war-torn zones since for young people, it is a way of instilling respect for opponents and rules, teamwork, sportsmanship, determination and discipline.
“As ethnic tensions crises erupt in this region and the antagonistic communities struggle against entrenched problems, there is potential for sport or other non-formal recreation to resolve conflicts and educate future generations,'' Mr Karanja said.