Just hours before the historic FIFA World Cup final match kicked off in South Africa on Sunday, UN-HABITAT and its partners launched a major initiative aimed at making Africa's young people more productive and keep them away from delinquency.
Hailed as a legacy of the World Cup which took place on the African continent for the first time ever, " Youth for a Safer Africa" was launched at Garankuwa township, a few kilometers from Pretoria. The event that was hosted on a playground by Tshwane City saw many of the local youth turn out in large numbers to lend their support to the programme. And they turned out an impressive show which included vuvuzela blowing, a symphony orchestra as well as a cultural dance. Announcement was also made at this meeting of UN-Habitat's partnership with the city for its efforts to renovating and upgrade the Garnkuwa stadium with the agency contributing USD 10,000 towards that effort.
"Youth for a Safer Africa" is an initiative that brings together UN-HABITAT and its partners, SCORE, Right to Play and Coca Cola.One of the highlights of the programme was the sponsorship of 20 young people from Easter Africa to South Africa where they teamed up with an equal number of local youth for activities on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup including workshops and team building skills.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Executive Mayor of Tshwane Gwen Ramokgopa referred to UN-HABITAT's State of the Urban Youth Report and emphasised the need for youth's access to good quality education. She expressed the hope that this partnership would restore African nations' pride in its young people.
In her speech, UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka said the "Youth for a Safer Africa " initiative embodied the notion of connecting youth with sport, peace, and development.
"Inspiration, enthusiasm, and vision are all generated by giving these young people an opportunity to participate first-hand in such an energy-filled event like the FIFA World Cup Final," she said,expressing the hope that the Final would add inspiration for African youth at large to participate more in sports and realize the benefits flowing from them.
Mrs. Tibaijuka said the experience was both enjoyable and educative for the youth involved.
"The potential of sports to develop skills, provide opportunities and improve self esteem among youth is enormous. For a safer urban Africa, empowering youth is vital. This can be achieved through sports, urban resource centers and livelihood opportunities. And FIFA 2010 in South Africa is an inspirational opportunity for us all," she said. The Executive Director said it was it was indeed a positively charged and emotional event to witness the power of home-grown talents in Tshwane, in the opera singers, and other young artists who captivated those present.
"Much as the vuvuzelas were a symbol of unison, urging us to victory – as this historic event comes to a close, the FIFA World Cup has indeed inspired us all to meet the challenges that this continent faces and showed us how young people can spearhead the way forward, not only for Africa but the whole world," said Mrs. Tibaijuka. On his part Sean Neeb of Right To Play is the Director, International Business Development acknowledged the trans formative power of sport to grow skills and foster hope. With respect to sport and play programming, Mr. Neeb called on youth to action in the following manners:
- be a champion;
- promote the best values of sport (teamwork, fairplay and hysical activity);
- create opportunities for sport and play;
- be inclusive; and,
- give back (time, energy and skills).