By Racquel Hudson – Art in Tanzania internship
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than the government in breaking down racial barriers.” – Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela’s quote holds an accurate depiction of the effect that sports have on individuals and groups of people all over the world. Mandela expresses how sports can end the divide between people and cultures as well as inspire people to come together. Sports allow people to build bonds and establish relationships that typically would not have occurred in another setting. It is a form of communication that encourages people to express themselves through play. Essentially, in most countries, sport is not entirely competition-based. Instead, they are portrayed as an activity in which people can get out to have fun and exercise. There is less pressure on winning and more pressure on the expectation that people are communicating and expressing themselves with those around them.
In terms of children, sports help bring them out of their comfort zone and bring them great joy. It is not always necessarily about competition, rather it is how it can make you grow and benefit as an individual. Sports are for people of all ages and backgrounds, which provides structure for unity than any other method. It is all about what you like to do, who you engage yourself with, and how much you are willing to explore your options and try things that you did not expect to do.
Furthermore, sports are an essential source of socialization and social integration for informing young people and further their development. Social interaction through team sports teaches young people to associate with their friends, solve and prevent conflicts, communicate, and socialize better with their teammates. Whether it is the friends you bring or the people seated next to you, sporting events bring people together. Perhaps it is the common interest in the different teams that starts the conversation. Whatever the reason, if you talk to any sports fan, you are bound to hear a story or two about mid-game encounters with interesting people.
For instance, sports in South Africa are largely separated into different parts on ethnic lines. In South Africa, sports are treated as a national religion, language group, and transcending race that helps unify the entire country. The focus of sport is primarily to create an active and winning nation. It focuses on bringing many opportunities for Africans to celebrate in sport while still instilling country values.
Especially, football(soccer) without a doubt is one of the most popular sports admired by most Africans. Football is an exciting game with origins tracing back to the 1800s, when the British, French, and Portuguese colonists introduced the sport to Africa. Unlike other sports, football required minimal resources, and for this reason, it has penetrated every part of Africa. Many African footballers had to surmount some obstacles, including poverty, amongst other things before they achieved all the glitz and glamour they are now associated with. The football talent in Africa mostly begins at the grassroots level, and for this reason, many football stars come from hardship.
Fredrick Odhiambo, also known as Abedi, was born in the city of Kisumu in Kenya. He grew up in the poorest neighborhood out of Manyatta. Like many people from that area, life was not easy. To Fredrick and other fellow African athletes, football is everything. It is not only something to keep them busy and out of trouble, but it was also a chance at a better life —a way out of poverty. Abedi fell in love with football at the age of ten, where he quickly began to establish himself as a leader playing as a center-back. He once said, “Growing up in the slums, if I didn’t play football, I would have never gone to school.” He grew up in a family of seven kids, where his parents could not afford to take them to school. One evening, he went out to play on the football field, some high school coaches noticed his talents and agreed to pay for his schooling. He received an opportunity to attend school, whereas thousands in his village are not as lucky. Abedi’s journey growing up as a kid lead him to create a program and organization for people that were like himself and give them the opportunity to be included and engage positively as kids.
On another account, Yaya Toure grew up with similar hardships as Abedi and used football as an outlet in order to prevail. Growing up with his four other siblings and both parents, Yaya Toure often tried to normalize his childhood experiences whenever he spoke about it, but the truth is he grew up poor. According to Toure, ” I did not have football boots until he was ten years old because his parents could not afford them.” However, his boots later served him as he impressed the coaches at the Asec Mimosas academy. He earned himself a move to Europe with Dutch club Waasland Beveren. That move served as a springboard that opened new opportunities at European clubs such as Metalurh Donetsk, Olympiacos, Monaco, Barcelona, and Manchester City. Yaya Toure had a long and distinguished career that saw him win two La Liga titles, one Champions League, one Copa del Rey, three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, one Nations Cup, and many others. Safe to say, he made up for all of his childhood struggles. He is a four-time African footballer of the year grant champ now and routinely is in the discussion of most noteworthy African footballers.
Athlete development is a continuous process. It begins when an athlete first engages in a sport until an athlete withdraws from the sport itself. There are various stages of learning that outline the various stages of learning that an athlete undergoes to acquire new skills and techniques. Youth athletes are among some of the hardest-working people all across the world. Many factors contribute to their success. However, athletes at all levels have their motivation and will that push them to strive for greatness. We all have obstacles and hardships along the way, yet it is the process, the hope, the unity we partake in the sport of football that molds us along the way. Sport has the power to inspire.