Story: Rahamatu-Lahi Zakaria | Producer, Breakfast Live Show
Youth Opportunity Partnership Program (YOPP) held a three-day sport convening in Tamale starting on the 24th of February to 26th February 2022 to discuss the importance of sport as a tool for development in the northern region and the country as a whole.
The theme ‘’Unleashing the potential of sports as a tool for development practice’’ is a joint partnership between YOPP, NORSAAC and DGI to create a platform to discuss how sports can be an effective tool in tackling the developmental challenges in the region. Stakeholders at the event included other developmental partners, the media, sports enthusiasts, beneficiaries of YOPP projects and the public.
Chairperson for the event, Mr Osman Abubakar took the opportunity to call on the public to celebrate female achievers in society while also calling an end to sexual and gender-based violence in all sectors. Another issue he talks about is inclusion and stereotype in our communities. Mr Osman highlighted the need for civil societies to be inclusive in the approach of running their projects.
Alhaji Mohammed Alhassan Awal, the executive director for NORSAAC said there is a need to have a new approach to sport reporting in the country. According to him, the sports news item is always at the tail end of the program or on the back page of the newspapers which send the message that is not good for sports development. Persons in sport are being stereotyped and seen as the black sheep and there is the need to end this stereotype in society.
‘’So sport, in general, was seen as a bad thing and not seen as a responsible thing to do. It is not only sports that were resisted but other forms of developmental areas. Sport has done a lot for Ghana. What we have not been able to establish well is how sport can be used as a tool for development.’’.
He calls for the training and organising capacity building for sports journalists. This he says will change the narrative of sport in the country and it can be used as a tool for development.
The executive director for YOPP, Mr Abu Abubakar in a representation, explained the reason for the establishment of the organisation. ‘’The focus was to empower the youth to realize their potentials towards self-actualization and community development. It started with 7 communities and their youth association and now, YOPP is working in 11 communities.’’ He said.
Asked about the sustainability plans for the program should they live the communities, this is what he had to say,
‘’When we enter a community, we first ask if they have a youth group. If they do not have one, then we help them establish one. So we are building this on the soldiers of the youth group and the community members. We don’t have doubt that when we pull out of these communities, they will be able to continue with the sports activities ’’.
For persons with disability and inclusion in their program, Mr Abu says ‘’When we started ten years ago, we did not include them in our operation. But now we are thinking of doing it but we are piloting it in bits. But we want to start from the urban centre and then trickle it down to the rural areas. The rural areas which are our operational communities, do not have organised disability groups in sport so it is difficult to pilot it there.’’
The panel discussion moderated by Blessila was on the theme ‘’Sports as an opportunity for youth development-unleashed potential in self-development and girl’s empowerment”. The panellist was Shani Mahama, Mohammed Baako Alhassan, Hajia Hafsat Sey Sumani and a representative of the regional sports council.