Tackling social vistas through volleyball in Africa

 

Former South African president Nelson Mandela once said: “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural.   “It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”

As Africa fights for its survival, its peoples find themselves possessing a weapon with which to end the vicious circle of poverty.

This weapon is volleyball. Because it is a cost-efficient and powerful development tool, it can help African countries transform their economies.

Furthermore, volleyball has a crucial role to play in the efforts of African countries to improve the lives of African citizens. This is so because it can build bridges between individuals and across communities, providing fertile ground for sowing the seed of development.

The International Olympic Committee defines volleyball as “a team sport in which two teams of six players are separated by a net of which each team tries to score points by grounding a ball on the other team’s court under organised rules”. Nepalese blogger, Samir Shretha believes that playing volleyball is the most important part of life and African countries should embrace this sport as an effective way to empower citizens. Besides creating employment opportunities, volleyball can benefit players in many ways.

Shretha blogs: “Playing volleyball is an activity that involves individual and group. It provides entertainment; it makes athletes strong, both physically and mentally; and it helps players to keep their bodies fit and healthy.”

He adds: “The game of volleyball teaches us leadership, team spirit and sportsmanship. It teaches us to be disciplined and a disciplined person can progress well in life.” Since most schools in Africa can easily train students to play volleyball, this sport represents a key weapon needed to fight poverty.

Sport is an important tool in helping countries to achieve their developmental goals. Therefore, governments and developmental players in Africa must heavily support volleyball and use it as a simple employment creation tool. This is also the reason why the powers of sports have not gone unnoticed in the international community.

The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remarks: “Sport is increasingly recognised as an important tool in helping the United Nations achieve its objectives, in particular the Millennium Development Goals.

“By including sport in development programmes in a more systematic way, the United Nations can make full use of this cost-efficient tool to help us create a better world.” This means that African countries should develop simple and safe volleyball fields for children in impoverished communities since volleyball is a catalyst for youth development, hope and inspiration.

More so, policy decision makers in the continent should envision a theoretical framework for the effect of volleyball on development, and ultimately poverty reduction as volleyball has the power to inspire and unite people; and it creates happiness.

Increasing young girls' participation in volleyball can also lead to great female empowerment, unlocking the full potential of Africa’s population.  Clubs must scout for talented girls in remote areas and train them to be professional competitors.

African governments should spearhead the empowering of communities with volleyball skills, resources and opportunities to enable them to change their lives.

By empowering citizens with volleyball, countries will be giving them platforms to survive different social vistas. As the adage goes, “Give a man fish and he’ll eat for a day – teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”

The African Union (AU) should sign partnership agreements with the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) – the international governing body for the sport of indoor, beach and grass volleyball – and the African Volleyball Confederation (CAVB) – the continental governing body for the sport of volleyball in Africa – to further harness the power of volleyball to achieve positive social change.

Since it takes a generation to be great, the current crop of African citizens should be responsible enough to play their part to change the fortunes of the continent and they can use volleyball as a panacea to developmental problems affecting the great continent.

November 2013
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