Tuesday, 20 May 2014

EAC versus the FIFA World Cup

Whilst Ronaldo, Rooney et al. gear up for the World Cup, in Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe they are talking about the East Africa Cup. It takes place in the last week of June in Moshi, Tanzania, and is the biggest sport-for-development event of its kind in Africa.

How does it compare to the World Cup?

1) Equal gender participation

Unlike the World Cup, the East Africa Cup aims for an equal gender balance amongst its youth participants. We’ve found that sport can improve the confidence of girls and young women, and can provide a safe space where they can get together – we also believe it can challenge gender expectations and help girls and young women earn respect in their community.

2) Yearly (and year-round)

You con't have to wait four years for the East Africa Cup (EAC)  - it happens every year, and one qualification for entrance is that the teams involved prove a year-round commitment to using sport in their community.

3) Classes for players

Before a ball is kicked at the EAC all players attend classes in topics like First Aid, AIDS prevention and conflict resolution. We think that both sport and education are good for young people.

media skills workshops mix journalists and youth leaders

4) Fair play

The biggest trophy at the EAC doesn’t go to the team who wins the most matches; it goes to the most sporting team. As well as on-field behaviour, which is noted by the referees and their assistants, fair play can also mean off the field participation in cultural events, litter picking, and classroom activities.

street theatre in Moshi market place, performed by the cultural team

 5) Peace-building

Some of the countries involved in the EAC have suffered terribly from conflict. At the EAC we hold workshops in conflict resolution, and we bring people together from different communities. Past participants have included former child soldiers from Uganda, and Rwandan teams which have mixed Hutu and Tutsi players, and this year there will be two teams form South Sudan.

classroom activities: photo by Audun

6) Cultural activities

Every evening at the EAC there are songs, dances, and performances by the participating teams. We believe that by bringing youngsters together we can encourage them to think of people from neighbouring countries as friends.

Volunteers come from East Africa and Norway

7) Youth leadership

We don’t expect to find the next Samuel Eto’o or Didier Drogba at the EAC; but we can work with the next generation of community leaders. We have seminars on leadership and coaching. We also think that by bringing young people together in the spirit of football, fellowship and fun, and in providing opportunities for travel for players whose opportunities are limited we can help broaden the outlook of the youngsters involved.

8) Safe spaces

The EAC has a strong focus on child protection issues; we aim to educate both children and adults on this topic  and we work closely with Save The Children to ensure that we provide a safe environment for young people.

all photos Nick Raistrick/ East Africa Cup unless stated

9) A sport for development centre of excellence

By bringing together people involved in community sport throughout the year from all over East Africa and beyond, we create an environment where people can share best practice and collaborate. So, for example, a Tanzanian trainer and from the Kicking Aids Out organisation might discuss issues with a Ugandan referee, a Kenyan coach  and a Somali youth leader. The idea is that people go back to their communities with new ideas about how they can use sport in their community.

10) No adverts

We don’t make money from the East Africa Cup, and we don’t have an expensive headquarters in Geneva. In fact we are powered by volunteers, and supported by donations and payment in kind. You are welcome to support us though; our costs include catering, accommodation and transport. Either email us at info@eacup.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter @eastafricacup).

sitting volleyball allows young people with disabilities to compete with able-bodied youngsters

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