Harnessing Sport as an Economic Force for Urban Development

By on 09/18/2018

Hargeisa/Bossaso and Kismayo, 14 September 2018-–  UN-Habitat recently launched the pilot Training of Trainers: Sport for Development and Peace in Somaliland, Puntland and in the regional state of Jubbaland, under the Youth Employment Somalia (YES) programme. The training targets vulnerable and at-risk youth equipping them with a diverse set of marketable skills that enhance the opportunities for youth to secure meaningful employment in the job market. Over hundred young people took part in the intense 10-day training that combined two different approaches to provide them with analytical skills and boost their self-confidence.

The pilot project is informed by the fact that  role of sport in fostering tolerance, post-conflict recovery, and youth engagement is immense. Furthermore, the potential sport has as a tool to reach development objectives, enable positive relationships among youth, provide them with a safe space to engage in healthy activities is far-reaching.

UN-Habitat has recognised that development through sport has become a fundamental component of a holistic approach to realising the full potential of youth; contributing to the social and economic development of youth as well as kick-starting economic growth in our cities.

In the words of the paricipants, the pilot was just the right thing at the right time. “I really enjoyed Training of Trainers: Sport for Development and Peace training organized by UN-Habitat as I’ve learned a lot about conflict management and basketball coaching. More importantly, I greatly improved my analytical and communications skills, and I grew in confidence to speak English. None of this I was able to get through formal educational system (university) so I feel like I’ve gained competitive advantage in the job market. This is extremely important to me as I’m currently looking for paid work,” said Mohamed Jama, 25, from Hargeisa

According to UN-Habitat, youth culture around sports and arts bring vibrancy and attractiveness to a city which draws more business and development.

The training targets vulnerable and at-risk youth equipping them with a diverse set of marketable skills that enhance the opportunities for youth to secure meaningful employment in the job market.

The programme also had additional topics, such as gender-based violence, migration or sexual and reproductive health and rights were grounded in the training to widen the scope of critical social issues youth face on a daily basis while also providing valuable tools on how they can tackle some of these challenges.

Hodan, a 26 year old female from Hargeisa said: “During UN-Habitat’s Training of Trainers: Sport for Development and Peace I discovered how much you can learn through sport. I love playing sport, but due to lack of available facilities I hardly ever do. We need more sport spaces, especially designed specifically for girls, so we can pass on the knowledge and skills we’ve learned during this training to others”.

Reviving the culture-of-sport, once a cherished domain in the Horn of Africa, and exploring alternative employment opportunities in the sport sector can bring new investment increasing the morale of the Somali youth. Oftentimes, young people believe that when we talk of a career in sport, we talk of becoming a professional athlete. They do not necessarily see all the other stimulating career options that the industry has to offer whether in management, administration, media or logistics.   Approaching it from this perspective, sport offers a diverse portfolio of employment opportunities as well as grounded platform for learning and engaging youth.

Inclusive governance, empowerment, and the recognition of the contribution of vulnerable groups particularly youth and women are all key elements of UN-Habitat integrated approach to achieving sustainable urban development. Taking it one step further, framing sports as a strategic tool that supports peacebuilding efforts lays the foundation for creating a thriving culture of sport that will support and enhance urban development efforts at the local and national levels.

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