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Promoting youth participation in sport

Written by Chris Bathembu

Sport, arts and culture

For many decades sport has been a unifier in South Africa because it has shown it has the power to heal old wounds.

Many remember when the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup on home turf in 1995 during the height of racial tensions in South Africa. But when former President Nelson Mandela donned the No 6 shirt of the team’s captain – Francois Pienaar, a white Afrikaner – the gesture sent an image of racial reconciliation which melted hearts around the country.

It is this power of sport that inspired the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) to sponsor the first annual June 16 soccer tournament played in Johannesburg recently.

The agency’s spokesperson Siyabonga Magadla said there were a number of benefits associated with youth participating in sports.

“Sports has a way of promoting social cohesion and positive thinking and behaviour among young people. It promotes healthy lifestyle and well-being. If we are to continue supporting and promoting youth participation in sports, it will go a long way in ensuring that young are prevented in engaging in social ills like drugs and substance abuse,” Magadla said.

The NYDA said the youth of today face many challenges such as HIV and Aids, drug abuse and alcoholism.

While government continues to show its strongest hand in fighting youth challenges, young people are urged to see opportunities around them despite their challenges.

Magadla said: “We therefore have a responsibility as part of our youth development work to encourage youth participation in sports and education towards the development of young people.”

The inaugural June 16 Soccer Cup, aligned to the Youth Month activities, saw two schools chosen from Soweto and a team from the national the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), battling it out in the field of play for a trophy, gold medals and prizes ranging from R3 000 to R6 000.

The event started with a motivational session during which renowned SABC soccer analyst and life coach Christopher Bongo motivated the young players to follow their dreams in life. He also encouraged the youngsters to stay in school so that after their playing days, they can be able to pursue various careers available in sports.

The event will take place in Tshwane next year to allow local schools a chance to participate.

Lavela High School from Dobsonville were crowned champions of the tournament after beating the SABC team.

For its effort, the team was awarded a trophy and R6 000 to be used towards sports improvement.

Teacher Dan Makgale said he was happy that his team won. “This will serve as motivation for the kids to work hard in their studies as they have seen that anything is possible if you work hard in it,” Makgale said.

The SABC team were runners up and walked away with R3 000 and silver medals, while the other school, Kwadeda Secondar,y got bronze medals and a R1 000 prize.

Apart from the money donated by the NYDA, Supersport donated a number of soccer balls that were used on the day.