As part of its initiatives to promote sport as an agent for social change, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) teamed up with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) this week to launch an ambitious three-year Sport and Education programme for young people in the Osire refugee settlement in Namibia.
Sport as a school for life
Some 8,500 people currently live in the settlement, 40 per cent of whom are between the ages of 10 and 30. The programme is designed to get this group more involved in organised sport in an effort to alleviate some of the major problems affecting young people in Osire, namely teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, and substance abuse. By linking the sporting activity to educational programmes on topics such as sexual and reproductive health and computer classes, the IOC and UNHCR are looking to provide the young people with meaningful recreational activities and the necessary tools to make informed decisions in life.
Young women as target group
A major facet of the programme is to empower young women, and as such the goal will be to increase female participation in the sporting and educational activities. Sports equipment for women and girls will be provided to help encourage their participation, and domestic leagues will be set up to create greater opportunities for the athletes.
The IOC will oversee the sporting aspect of the programme and will provide equipment and a minibus to transport the teams, while funding training for coaches, organisers and coordinators.