Zambia’s Young Change-Maker at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Nanjing 2014, Samantha Miyanda has been spearheading an ambitious programme to empower young women in her native country under the umbrella of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Young Change-Makers+ (YCM+) Programme.
By her own admission, Samantha Miyanda was a relatively late convert to the joys of sport and the positive impact it can make on people’s lives. She was 18 when the revelation came after belatedly joining a football team; and, ever since her sporting turning point, she has been working tirelessly to inspire the next generation of girls in Zambia.
Her journey took her to the YOG in Nanjing three years ago. And this year she oversaw her YCM+ “Girls Mentorship Programme” in southern Africa, a project involving 20 girls. With an internship pending at the Zambian Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development, as well as a university degree to complete, the 25-year-old is forging ahead on all fronts.
“It started for me in 2010 when the Olympic Youth Development Centre [OYDC] opened in Zambia,” she says. “I had never been interested in sport, but after watching the official opening on television, it inspired me to take up football. Playing a team sport and making new friends daily was a fascinating experience.
“The OYDC runs a Young Leaders Programme, which I was selected to join as a football representative. The programme taught us about HIV/AIDs awareness, leadership, nutrition, doping and child protection.”
Samantha’s involvement with the OYDC led her to be invited to apply to be her country’s Young Change-Maker in China and, despite strong competition from 30 of her compatriots and some nervous, late-night wrestling with the last, daunting stage of the application process, she got the role.
“The 30 applicants were cut down to three for the final interview,” she says. “After the interviews, we were set a 1,500-word assignment on the subject of sport and drugs. I had no idea how to do such a long assignment. I was about to give up but my young sister and mum made sure I didn’t and, at three o’clock the next morning, I was done and emailed it to the Executive Director of the NOC (National Olympic Committee).”
Her nocturnal endeavours were rewarded with her trip to Nanjing. Since returning from China, Samantha has concentrated on helping Zambian girls fulfil their professional potential with her mentorship initiative, which has been supported by leading women in Zambian sports including Bessie Chelemu, the National Director of Sport; Brenda Chipande, the Executive Director of the NOC; and Enala Phiri, the head coach of the women’s national football team.
“I picked this programme because for a long time I have always wanted to create an educational opportunity to better equip girls to excel in the sports industry, which is often male-dominated,” she reveals.
“The development of peer leaders, coaches and educators is a key outcome of this project. Females in my country have a lot of potential to excel and offer the same expertise as men.
“These girls are trained in HIV/AIDS, nutrition, the Olympic values, entrepreneurship and leadership. Some will go on to become qualified coaches, and some will take an academic route to pursue other careers. The programme taps into the expertise of influential women in my country, who are sharing their ideas and experiences to inspire these girls to reach their maximum potential.”
Samantha on … Nanjing
My favourite memory was Sydney Siame winning gold for Zambia in the athletics 100m final. To hear our national anthem being played was amazing.
Samantha on … the Olympic Games
Since being involved with the Olympic Movement, I feel that the Olympic values are human values that go beyond the playing field and can positively influence society.
Samantha on … Panasonic
I would like to thank Panasonic for the camera, with which we have been able to capture unforgettable moments as we interact with our role models. It is great to have such an Olympic Partner, which also invests in youth and supports the YCM+ allowing us to deliver our projects around the world.
Samantha on … the Future
I am currently doing a degree in Development Studies at the University of Lusaka, which I hope to complete by December 2018.
The YCM+ Programme supported by Panasonic is a social entrepreneurship through sport initiative. YCM applicants can submit a project to the IOC, using sport for a better world in their community, and the best projects are allocated a maximum of CHF 5,000 of seed funding. Themes cover Healthy & Active Living, Inclusion, Sustainability, and Peace & Development.