By Daniel Twomey
As part of my experience in Mozambique last summer I had the pleasure of organising a sports day on the “Young Africa” Dondo Campus. This was an event for over 200 primary school aged pupils. It was a great day. Richly rewarding and hugely satisfying. It is a memory of the summer that I look back and take a lot of pride from. It was fun, energizing and active.
I felt our Sports day had a galvanizing affect on the young people of this area of Mozambique and brought the community together. Pupils, teachers and parents alike all bought into the idea of the sports day and worked in collaboration to ensure it was as a success. It was in essence a group of people all rowing in the one direction for the enjoyment and betterment of the children.
Sport can have a huge impact on development if utilized in the correct manner. Football is a prime example. The “beautiful game” is played in the same way in South East Africa as it is anywhere else, 11 players per team, a football and two goals. We included football in our sports day and the rules of the game were the exact same. It’s just the resources that are different. The young people I coach in Ireland play on lush green grass pitches with the best of facilities. The young people of Dondo, Mozambique play on rough dry dust pitches with rough boundaries and limited facilities. Countries such as Mozambique are under resourced but by going overseas and witnessing the conditions first hand, we as volunteers can raise awareness of the development issues faced by these communities day by day. This can promote understanding of the different cultures and backgrounds of the inhabitants of the two countries.
Our sports day, I hope, promoted peace and understanding. From my experience in Mozambique, what I came to realize was that the only difference between these students and the students in Ireland is their geographical location. Their youthful exuberance, interest in sport and levels of activity are all the same. By working in solidarity side by side with African pupils and teachers we show a sign of respect and this is reciprocated by the bucket load. The sense of unity and Solidarity which is the essence of SERVE was obvious from the start of my volunteering experience.
The young people of Dondo, both male and female participated in the Sports day with some of the older students assisting in its organization. We had student leaders in each group and I felt this worked well in terms of the management of the day. The young people were empowered and were given some autonomy in the running of the event. We all worked together to ensure the youngest members of this beautiful community had a fun and active day and overall, If felt it was a great success. The day was invigorating, energizing and from my own perspective it was richly rewarding. A great day out was had by all.
Daniel (Serve Volunteer 2016 and PE Teacher)