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31/8-2017Street sports to give Somaliland’s youth new opportunities

Young people in Somaliland now have a unique opportunity to use street sports as a tool to create positive social changes in the unstable country. The Danish NGO GAME launches a street sports program that educates local young role models to create positive communities for children around street basketball and street soccer.

Mayor of Hageisa opened the soccer-match that kickstarted the GAME activities in Somaliland:

– We welcome GAME in partnership with Somaliland Youth Organization here in Hargeisa. We are happy that you decided to bring social change through sports to our part of the world. Hargeisa is going through a lot of positive change these years and we are looking forward to see your expertise in street sports around the city. This way more children and youth can get involved in positive and meaningful activities, said Abdirahman Soltelco.

The Danish NGO GAME enters from August 31 a new partnership with The Somaliland National Youth Organization (SONYO), on the Youth-Led Social Change Through Street Sports program to run in the period 2017-2018. The project has two goals. One is to educate local youths as volunteer leaders of street sports hubs and in that way strengthen young people’s leadership and community participation. The second is to motivate children and young people to be physically active. The goal is to educate 50 young people (15-25 years) as volunteer Playmakers and to help them reach 500 children – of which 40 percent are girls – who are active in weekly training in the two GAME zones in Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital .

Said A. Hussein has extensive knowledge of the area and has helped establish the cooperation with SONYO.
– There is a need to empower young people in Somaliland, as they are the ones to build and strengthen the fragile society. The method of young role models and street sports is effective both in the short and the long run. In the short run because the young people create positive and safe communities for children in the local area. In the long run, we hopefully help activate and inspire youth leaders who can also make a difference outside the world of sports. And Somaliland needs this, says Said A. Hussein, who is GAME’s representative in East Africa.

The young Playmakers will participate in two Playmaker Camps. Here they learn to create empowerment through street sports and voluntarism as well as to create safe, positive youth communities around street sports with room for everyone. They subsequently take these skills to the street and they train children and youth in street basketball and street soccer.

GAME’s Playmaker program has been developed over the last 15 years and is adapted to the Somaliland setting and to the partnership with SONYO. The goal is to give Somaliland’s young Playmakers the methods to create and develop both their own and the country’s future.

– Somaliland is a clan- and elderly-dominated society, but young people are the future. So if we do not mobilize and empower them, there is no future. The inclusion of children and young people in Somaliland in sports, leadership and communities is therefore a way of improving and developing the country, says director of SONYO, Omer Miigane.

Sonyo is the largest nationwide youth organization in Somaliland and was established in June 2003. Sonyo has 54 youth organizations from the six regions Somaliland: Hargeisa, Sahil, Awdal, Togdheer, Sool and Sanaag.

SONYO is a non-political and non-profit youth organization that works to improve youth’s quality of life through programs tailored to young people’s social, political, economic, physical and mental development.

GAME has worked with Playmakers as a method of youth-led social change in vulnerable residential areas in Denmark since 2002 and in Lebanon since 2007. Last year, GAME had more than 115,000 attendances and 260 Playmakers in Denmark and Lebanon.

Like the Danish and Lebanese Playmakers, the Somali Playmakers are trained in citizenship, conflict management, leadership, gender equality, street sports and cross-border cooperation. It empowers youth to take leadership, resolve conflicts in a peaceful way and promote active and positive communities.

The program is supported by CISU (Civil Society in Development) under The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.