An opening ceremony was held for the construction of 45 sports fields for socially disadvantaged youth in Namibia recently. In the future, nearly 14,000 young Namibians across the country will be able to use the sports fields for free to play football or other sports. Germany’s development ministry has teamed up with prominent partners for the project. They include partners from Namibia and the German Football Association (DFB), as well as the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
German Development Minister Gerd Müller said, “Football and sports do not only open people’s hearts, they also open doors. Sport teaches young people values such as fair play, discipline and respect – these are things they need in order to live their lives independently. People who know how to deal with victory and defeat in sports will find it easier to handle challenges in their real lives, too. Our initiative gives young people the opportunity to meet and interact.”
There are many parts of Namibia where children and young people do not have any opportunity yet to play sports. By building or renovating sports fields, the BMZ and its partners create safe spaces for children and youth to meet and to play football, basketball, volleyball and other sports. Sports training teaches young people important social skills such as respect, fair play and team spirit. Playing sports together also builds young people’s self-esteem. Specially trained coaches will be available for the youth. They can act as role models and as counsellors. As part of their work, they will make a point of discussing difficult issues such as HIV prevention, teenage pregnancies, alcohol abuse and violence against women. Women coaches in particular can act as important role models.
Namibian national women soccer coach Jacqui Shipanga said: “Our young women football players, especially in the U17 national team, now sit together and talk about the university they want to attend and the careers they want to pursue. A mere five years ago, most of my women players were school dropouts, and of course their conversations now are very different. And that is the kind of impact that programmes such as ‘Sport for Development’ are having in Namibia and in society.”
In order to make sure that the sports fields will still be used frequently a few years from now, the project also engages with schools, building knowledge there – on things such as good physical education curricula and technical maintenance of sports fields. The costs for these activities will be covered by the Namibian government.
© German Embassy Windhoek